Sox secret weapon? 'Youth,' says Grandal

September 17th, 2020

CHICAGO -- Veteran catcher Yasmani Grandal used two words to describe what might make this 2020 White Sox team a tough opponent in the postseason.

“The youth,” Grandal said during a Thursday morning Zoom session. “Not knowing what a young player is going to do, it’s pretty nerve-wracking.

“You don’t know what’s going to happen. A team like this team -- who plays hard, runs everything out, who can steal, bunt, who can hit the long ball, who can string runs together, who’s pretty much never out of a game -- it’s pretty nerve-wracking for somebody else.”

Many of these young White Sox players developed together, lost together at the big league level and now are in position to possibly win the 2020 American League Central together. It’s a season the White Sox expected. It’s also just the start of what they hope to accomplish.

But Grandal, who has 96 plate appearances' worth of postseason experience with the Dodgers and Brewers, points out that success in the regular season doesn’t always translate into postseason excellence. Any team can win once the playoffs begin, but as Grandal explained, it’s all about that team getting hot during the October stretch, not necessarily being playoff-ready.

“If you think about transferring what you did in the season to the postseason, you're going to fail, believe me,” he said. “I've been there a few times. It's a matter of who's getting hot, and it's a matter of staying within yourself. It's a matter of playing the game that you know you can play and not trying to do too much.

“Ninety percent of these guys have never been there, so don’t try to get ready for it or amp up for it. Take it one step at a time, and if it ends up happening, great. We know we can come back next year and do it all over again. If it doesn’t, we got experience under our belt, and then we can come back next year and do it all over again.”

Renteria not concerned with seeding

Manager Rick Renteria isn’t focused on playoff seeding over the final 11 games of the season. He’s sticking to the "one day at a time" approach, trying to win every game.

“Obviously, there are certain things everybody is dealing with, but we’re trying to win, that’s the bottom line,” Renteria said. “Whether we fall into the first seed or however it plays itself out, I know it’s important to us to continue to play good baseball.

“Those things will take care of themselves. Those things we have to deal with over the next 11 days or whatever is left, we’ll deal with. But these guys want to go out and play to win every game, and if that puts us in the first seed, it puts us in the first seed.”

Third to first

• The White Sox have a 17-6 edge all-time over the Reds, who they visit for three games this weekend. That includes an 11-4 record at Great American Ball Park. The White Sox are 8-6 against the National League Central this season.

• Dane Dunning’s 28 strikeouts over his first five career starts rank as the second most by a White Sox pitcher during his first five career appearances. Dunning only trails Jason Bere, who had 31 in 1993.

Related

• Left-handers Aaron Bummer and Carlos Rodón worked on the field Thursday with Dallas Keuchel, doing some fielding drills off the mound. Bummer, one of the team’s top relievers, is working through a nerve issue near his biceps tendon, while Rodón has dealt with soreness in his left shoulder and has had back problems of late. Both could be a boost for the White Sox when activated from the injured list.

They Said It

“I think a few of them are wearing the wrong jersey, though. Soldier Field’s down the road. They need to be in football uniforms, not baseball uniforms.” -- Minnesota starter Jake Odorizzi, on the physical size of some of the White Sox hitters he faced on Wednesday night

“I don't think for us this is a playoff mentality right now. The stakes in the playoffs are slightly higher, intensity gets way up there. For now they just seem relaxed, they seem like they're confident in what they're doing. And that's a positive. You want to see that on a daily basis.” -- Grandal, on the White Sox experiencing a playoff atmosphere during the final 11 games of the regular season