White Sox lean on leaders in difficult times

White Sox leaders come in various forms. “Some people have it, some don’t,” Lance Lynn said.

SHARE White Sox lean on leaders in difficult times
Lance Lynn of the White Sox reacts after recording an out in Toronto.

Lance Lynn of the White Sox reacts after recording an out in Toronto.

Cole Burston/Getty Images

CINCINNATI — In times like these, the White Sox will find what they’re made of. They’ll know for sure who their leaders are, too.

Lance Lynn, the alpha male in the room, brings a big presence, experience and the manner of a no-nonsense bouncer. Tim Anderson delivers energy and swagger with a batting-champion and All-Star résumé.

In his 15th season, Elvis Andrus has even more experience, and being bilingual helps. Andrew Benintendi is quiet but respected with a World Series ring. The Sox’ leaders come in different forms.

Gavin Sheets, Andrew Vaughn and Jake Burger are leaders in the making, getting mentored by coaches in their apprenticeships.

When a team with postseason expectations gets off to a 12-23 start, begins to gain some traction with five wins in seven games but loses perhaps its best hitter in Eloy Jimenez to an appendectomy as the Sox did Saturday, it’s all hands on deck.

“That’s when leadership comes through,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “You lose a guy, not only is he in the middle of your lineup, but you lose a guy who’s hot in the middle of your lineup. That’s when leadership comes to the forefront. You’ve just got to keep it moving, keep moving forward. We have to find ways to win. We have to do whatever we can to win a baseball game.”

As Ken Harrelson might say, “Don’t stop [or quit] now, boys.”

As reliever Kendall Graveman said last week, the challenge in times like these is having everyone sticking to their daily work and not backing off. Expectations of players getting traded before the deadline can be a distraction.

And the energy needs to be in full supply under difficult circumstances, which is where Anderson comes in. His role, he says, is simply being himself.

“I do me, I be me,” Anderson said. “If that happens to be what a leader does, then that’s great. I try to help my guys.’’

If being vocal means you’re a leader, “then I’ve been a leader since I got here. I just come and play every day, and if I have something to share with my guys, I do it,” Anderson said.

How did Lynn become a leader? Not by his own design.

“They view me as that,” he said. “That’s usually the start of it. Having people around you that you can trust and can make you accountable. That’s part of the process of growing into those roles. But it starts with having people wanting to follow you. Some people have it, some don’t, to be honest with you. That’s the truth of the matter. And if you have that, you figure out how to build off that to be a positive influence.”

Vaughn might grow into the role. He’s only 26 and prefers leading with his work and performance.

“We’ve got different leaders,” he said. “Tim, the way he plays on the field. Lance, who has been around for 10 years. I was in middle school when Elvis was in the league. What these guys know, what they say, they get it.”

Andrus spoke up at a recent team meeting, and teammates listened.

“He said, ‘I’ve seen this happen before,’ ’’ Vaughn said. ‘‘ ‘We’re going to be fine; we’re going to be all right.’ ’’

Lynn knows others look up to him. It comes with the gig.

“Have to make sure they’re not panicking,” Lynn said. “And if you see they’re not panicking, it gives you a little break to say, this is part of it, you’re going to have skids. Unfortunately, we did it right out of the gate. That doesn’t mean the season is over. We have a lot of time left, and we have to figure out how to right the ship and best navigate it the rest of the way.”

The Latest
U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall seemed affected by the hundreds of letters written by Burke’s supporters. “I have never in all my career seen the letters that I have received for Mr. Burke.”
“Larry worked to bring peace to his neighborhood, to show our young people that there is a better way,” Police Supt. Larry Snelling said. “In a brazen and senseless act of violence, Larry’s life was taken from him by the very people he committed his life to helping.”
“I haven’t had a thought about interfering,” La Russa said. “I build relationships so people in the organization know they can trust me.”
Sunday saw 14 people shot — including two shootings less than two hours apart on the same Little Village block, which left one dead and three injured.
The window for hopefuls to submit their minimum 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot closed Monday afternoon with more than two dozen final-day submissions wrapping up the week-long process that kicked off the elections.