White Sox keep focus on 'tomorrow' after loss to Braves

April 2nd, 2024

CHICAGO -- Pedro Grifol usually makes opening remarks before taking questions from the media following a White Sox contest.

After a 9-0 loss to the Braves in eight rain-shortened innings Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field, dropping the White Sox to 0-4 overall, the White Sox manager didn’t have much to say.

“I really don’t have much for you guys,” Grifol said. “These are ones you’ve just got to flush and get ready to play tomorrow.”

Monday’s setback was the first of this three-game set played in what is expected to be rainy and cold conditions, with snow possible for Wednesday. It also marked the first 0-4 start for the White Sox since 2015 and their first 0-4 start at home since 2018.

Since last Thursday’s first pitch thrown by Garrett Crochet:

The White Sox lost three one-run games to American League Central rival Detroit.

With an 0-for-4 showing Monday against Charlie Morton and two relievers, the offense is 1-for-18 when hitting with runners in scoring position.

Their offense is 21-for-125 overall with eight runs scored and two shutouts.

Luis Robert Jr., who launched two long home runs, drove in four and reached base four times Saturday, is 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts since that impressive outburst.

And then there’s Eloy Jimenez’s injury. The designated hitter was at the ballpark Monday but not available due to the left adductor strain suffered after taking a couple of steps out of the batter’s box Sunday on a groundout.

“He’s day to day right now,” said Grifol following the loss. “He came in, he felt OK, adductor like we anticipated. So we’ll see. It’s going to be day to day. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”

Going day to day with Jimenez is understandable, not wanting to lose the possibility of his impact bat for 10 days if it’s only a one or two day absence. It also leaves the White Sox short a man off the bench.

“That’s what we’re doing right now,” said Grifol of playing short.

“You have to think next man up,” White Sox first baseman Andrew Vaughn said. “We got 13 position players on this team, everybody has a job. That has to be the mindset.”

It’s not as if this rough open has been without positives. Crochet was outstanding in his debut as a starter and in his first Opening Day start. Michael Kopech has been overpowering out of the bullpen, and rookie Jordan Leasure certainly looks as if he truly belongs in the Majors through two scoreless outings.

Erick Fedde struck out seven on Sunday in his return to Major League Baseball from one season in Korea. But the record doesn’t lie, even through such a small portion of the schedule. And that record has a 0 in the win column.

“We just didn't put any runs on the board and they scored a lot,” Vaughn said. “It's never good when it ends up that way.”

“We’ve just got to do a better job of putting balls in play when we’ve got runners in scoring position,” Grifol said. “We’re talking about them, we’re working on them. We’ve got to find ways to make them make plays. And that’s really about it.”

A snapshot of earlier White Sox days looks across the field for this series, with Chris Sale, Reynaldo López and Aaron Bummer now part of the Braves pitching staff. Sale is one of the greatest hurlers in White Sox history and was traded to Boston to start the previous rebuild at the 2016 Winter Meetings. López was part of the young talent acquired during the rebuild in the Adam Eaton trade with the Nationals and along with Bummer’s overall strong relief work, contributed to two straight playoff appearances in 2020-21.

Now, the clubhouse and team looks completely different with general manager Chris Getz at the helm. Different makeup, different focus, but the final results don’t look different from last season’s 61-101 showing.

“Yeah, I think the first three dropping them by one run are very competitive games,” said White Sox starter Chris Flexen, who allowed four runs on six hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings against Atlanta. “This one kind of got away from us a little bit today. That mentality has to be the same: Compete every single day and focus on winning ballgames.”