Since being swept by the Detroit Tigers on July 20-22, the resilient Chicago White Sox have won nine of 12 games, holding on to first place with manager Robin Ventura’s simplistic “one game at a time” approach.
While most good teams say they expect to be in the playoffs, Ventura’s soft sell to anyone who inquires about his team has served his club well.
“Well, I can say we are a good team. I believe that,” Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “We are a good team by definition of everybody pulling in the same direction and being together. The rest is for the experts to talk about. We are fine with all of that because if someone says we are a great team it is not going to matter anyway. It won’t until the last day of the season.”
The kind of brash talk you might find in New York and Texas, where the regular season seems like a mere formality, is not present around the White Sox clubhouse.
“We focus on tomorrow, we worry about tomorrow,” Ventura said. “We don’t look too far down the road and just continue to play. I think that’s the strength, that we have guys focused on day-to-day stuff instead of trying to find what this [win or loss] means. Just play.”
The only two players left on the White Sox from their playoff runs in 2005 and 2008 are Konerko and the team’s new home run star, A.J. Pierzynski. The veteran catcher’s pinch home run in the seventh inning on Sunday proved to be the game-winning hit once again. Pierzynski has bought into the daily approach as the key to a good, focused work ethic for the 2012 Sox.
“When the season is over and you have clinched a playoff spot,” was the catcher’s response when asked about when to say this club is playoff-bound. “When there is an “x” next to your team’s name saying you are in the playoffs and your magic number is zero. Look what happened to the Red Sox and Braves last year. You just can’t count any team out until they are officially eliminated.”
Pierzynski has hit home runs in five straight games, tying a team record. It’s been done six other times, the last one by Konerko last season.