White Sox name Pedro Grifol as manager

November 3rd, 2022

CHICAGO -- Rick Hahn could barely contain his excitement.

It was the hire of Pedro Grifol to a multi-year contract as the 42nd different manager in White Sox history, officially announced Thursday at the Guaranteed Rate Field Conference and Learning Center, leaving the general manager in an extraordinarily upbeat and equally hopeful state.

“Today is a pretty exciting day around here,” said Hahn, who was seated next to Grifol at a table up front. “You may see me smiling a little bit more than you have over the past year.

“You may see me gushing a little bit more than I have in the past year. That’s because it’s a little difficult for me to contain the excitement that many of us feel being able to present Pedro Grifol to you all as our new manager.”

Grifol, who turns 53 on Nov. 28, replaces Tony La Russa at the helm after the Hall of Famer decided not to return for a third year in charge of the White Sox. La Russa departed the team on Aug. 30 of this past season due to health concerns related to his pacemaker, with bench coach Miguel Cairo taking over.

This process to bring in Grifol was more extensive than the La Russa hire prior to the 2020 campaign. In fact, this search process rates as one of the most thorough in franchise history.

Hahn explained the original list of candidates began at 22 and swelled to 30 after hearing from people in the organization and “friends of the program.” That list was paired down to eight for the first round of interviews involving Hahn, assistant general managers Jeremy Haber and Chris Getz and director of baseball operations Daniel Zien.

Ultimately, Hahn and executive vice president Ken Williams sat down with a few candidates, leading to the finalists round in Arizona involving Hahn, Williams and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. Grifol was the second of the original eight to be interviewed, and Hahn said the bar immediately was raised for all other candidates.

“At the end of our first meeting, I said to him that I know you’ve been working toward becoming a big league manager for the last 20 years or so and I can’t imagine that not happening here in the not-too-distant future, whether it’s with us or somebody else,” Hahn said. “We were very fortunate it wound up being with us in the end.”

“There was a quick connection. I hadn't said that before in other interviews,” Grifol said. “I felt like we finished a game, and we were in the clubhouse, and we stayed there another two to three hours just talking about the game and what happened and how we can fix it the next day.”

Over the past three seasons with the Kansas City Royals, Grifol served as bench coach to Mike Matheny. He also served as the Royals’ quality control/catching coach (2018-19), catching coach (2014-17), special assignment hitting coach (2013-14) and Arizona Rookie League Surprise hitting coach (2013). Grifol said all the right things at this initial press conference, but the comments had the feel of having a definitive plan behind them.

The White Sox also found a man outside the organization who knows their team from playing them in the American League Central for the past decade. He spoke of the White Sox immense talent and then, without going too deep, set expectations for the 2023 squad.

“We will communicate. We will be fundamentally sound, we will play with passion, pride for this uniform. This means something,” Grifol said. “We will respect the game, our fans, and earn their trust. We will be prepared to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball. We will work hard and play winning baseball every night. We will definitely hold each other accountable.

“I truly see great things happening here. I'm really excited to be a part of it.”

Grifol became the eighth active manager who never previously played in the Majors. He joins Boston’s Alex Cora, St. Louis’ Oliver Marmol and Washington’s Dave Martinez as the fourth current Latino manager.

With his wife, three daughters and mother-in-law in attendance, Grifol fulfilled his dream. But it’s only Day 1 of what the Miami native and the organization who hired him hopes is a return to a winning trajectory after a disappointing 81-81 season in ‘22.

“I've been wanting to do this for a long, long time,” Grifol said. “But at the same time, I wasn't in a hurry to get here because the way I was brought up is, ‘Don't be in a hurry to get there.’

“Just make sure that when you get there that you're ready, as opposed to getting there and not being ready and you're here and gone in a couple years. It's an emotional day because it's been a long time, but I've enjoyed every minute of it.”