For Grifol, team culture all about 'respect, hard work, care, love'

February 7th, 2023

CHICAGO -- Pedro Grifol acknowledged that the 2023 White Sox are a talented club that has things to work on fundamentally. In that same 25-minute conversation with, the team’s new manager mentioned changes to come in mindset and culture.

So, what is culture exactly?

It’s not a clearly defined statistic, such as WAR, batting average or ERA, but it remains a crucial component for a winning team. Grifol presented a detailed explanation of how he envisions culture, and in his mind it manifests more as a common winning belief or feeling.

“You don’t really describe culture,” Grifol said. “I shared this with some of the staff members at one of the meetings we had. You have to understand, really, what culture looks like. You go to a ballpark, you see a team and right away, you are like, ‘Damn, that team is together. That team is fighting together. That team works hard.’ That’s really what culture is.

“People from the outside look in and they are like, ‘I want to be a part of that team and with that organization.’ That’s what we have to think about. We respect the game. We work hard. We care for each other. We don’t have to hang out with each other off the field if we don’t want to. If you want to, great. If you don’t, you don’t have to. But on the field, we are one, we are together, we are fighting together.”

As Grifol talked about his White Sox Spring Training debut, beginning when pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 15, he admitted to espousing a few clichés. His focus is on the game at hand, and the next day's game then takes over that high level of importance when it arrives.

He demands consistency from his staff and himself, preaching the need for short-term memory and constant work. 

Grifol is all in on this philosophy, and he believes his coaches, players and the entire organization are as well.

“We can’t look at October baseball without playing Game 1,” Grifol said. “We can’t look at Game 1 without going through Spring Training. Let’s just focus on what we need to do today.

“We’re respecting each other, respecting the game, respecting the uniform, the fans. How that happens? It happens with respect, hard work, care, love, that kind of stuff.”

Here’s one example of how “that kind of stuff” already has begun. , a Florida resident and the team’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, not only has been hitting with during the offseason, he has frequently hung out with the Gold Glove center fielder at his home in Weston, Fla.

Colas will enter Spring Training with a chance to take the right-field job as a rookie. Robert already has helped get the left-handed hitter ready.

“I love that,” Grifol said. “There’s nothing more impactful in the game than player-on-player communication, player-on-player learning from each other, teaching.

“When a player gets involved in the development of another player, and educating another player, that player gets that satisfaction that he is now invested into this young player’s career. He feels like he’s a part of that player’s success.”

Building this culture won’t happen overnight, as Grifol readily admits. And it’s his job as manager to address the expected hiccups along the way.

“You don’t just walk in there the first day and everybody all of a sudden starts loving each other,” he said. “The beauty of baseball is that it’s 162 games. You are going to face adversity, but you get to develop things throughout the year that you might not have started with on Day 1 of Spring Training, but you see them slowly start to evolve.

“At the end of the year, every time they put a mic in somebody’s face in October, they all say the same thing -- we can go back and look at video. They all say the same thing: 'We are a family, we love each other. We work together, we fight together.' It doesn’t matter what sport. We have to be cognizant of that and understand that’s a part of winning a championship, developing that type of culture."