White Sox right fielder would have preferred manager pulled him aside
CHICAGO -- Alex Rios stands as the symbol of the White Sox growing frustration coming from this disappointing 2013 campaign. But it's an unwanted role for the right fielder.
In a 5-for-25 slump since going 6-for-6 in Detroit on July 9, Rios hit what appeared to be an inning-ending double-play grounder with runners on first and third and the game tied at 2 in the fifth inning of Friday's 6-4 loss to the Braves. The well-struck ball was right at shortstop Andrelton Simmons, and Rios moved slowly out of the batter's box with his head down upon contact.
A problem for Rios was that Simmons bobbled the ball enough for the fleet-footed Rios to have a chance at beating the play at first and giving the White Sox the lead. That lack of hustle caused manager Robin Ventura to pull Rios from the game in the seventh.
Frustration does not become an excuse to play the game the wrong way, a point Rios understood when speaking about the matter before Saturday afternoon's contest.
"Well it's a situation that none of us want to be a part of. It's unacceptable behavior and there's a little bit of frustration in that behavior," Rios said. "I'm not using that as an excuse for what happened. It could've been managed in a better way, but it's something that shouldn't have happened.
"The whole picture is that I haven't been doing what I expect myself to do on a daily basis. It's been quite a little bit of time where I haven't been performing very well and I expect better from myself. So that's the frustration that I've been talking about."
Rios was pressed on the "managed in a better way" comment regarding his benching. He explained that if Ventura wanted to send a personal message to the outfielder, "it would've gone through better if he put me in his office and talked to me personally."
"If he wants to make a statement for the team, it probably worked," Rios added. "I don't know what his intentions were. But that's what I wanted to see."
Ventura didn't respond harshly to Rios' critique. In a matter-of-fact but direct tone, Ventura said the moment was handled and you go from there. He also understood Rios' request for the one-on-one admonishment, but made the basic point that physical errors are acceptable, but the same can't be said for lack of hustle.
"Again, you're handling it for 25 guys," Ventura said. "I get where he's coming from, but from where I'm coming, he probably understands how I have to do it.
"That stuff happens when you're frustrated. Guys hit ground balls that they can tell kind of when it comes off their bat what it is, and you just get frustrated. It's more of just kind of losing the thought. Your first thought should be running down the line. That's it. Again, it's a simple thing, it's handled and you go from there."
As a prime trade target for contending teams, this benching doesn't figure to hurt Rios' value. Scouts have seen him previously and already are in-tune with his potential shortcomings and the vast, five-tool ability he possesses on a daily basis. That ability came shining through in Saturday's 10-6 victory over the Braves, when Rios knocked out three hits, including a grand slam, and drove in five.
Trade talk has not affected Rios, per the outfielder, who hadn't talked to Ventura, but returned to the starting lineup Saturday. The veteran is more bothered by the team's struggles and his own funk of late.
"Well when you're not winning, everything is hard, you know?" Rios said. "Even simple things become harder because there's no energy or whatever you want to call it involving the whole situation. Unfortunately we're not having the season that we wanted to have, but there's not much you can do but grind.
"We're big leaguers and those things you have to put behind you very quick," said Rios of forgetting about Friday's mishap. "That's why you keep distractions away from your way of playing. It's behind me and hopefully it doesn't happen again."