As White Sox look to future, Sale, Beckham among new veteran core
CHICAGO -- In just their sixth and fifth big league seasons, respectively, Gordon Beckham and Chris Sale currently look to be two of the leaders on the revamped 2014 White Sox roster.
Of course, that status depends on the late-season decision Paul Konerko makes regarding his future and any other moves the White Sox make via the waiver wire in August or during the offseason. But the reshaping process done by general manager Rick Hahn also brings with it talented young players moving more into the spotlight.
"I guess you could say that," said Sale, when asked about becoming a leader. "Just being around and helping out whatever way I can. Just talking baseball or pointing things out or whatever it might be. Just kind of go with it."
"Obviously, this is my home, so I hope I stay here," Beckham said. "It's tough because you see kind of a changing of the guard with some of these guys going. Hopefully, we'll still have most of the guys in here next year. I really think we are not too far off, so we just have to keep playing hard and not lose anybody else."
With the trade of right fielder Alex Rios and $1 million in cash considerations to the Rangers on Friday afternoon, Hahn has moved four established veterans since Matt Thornton was shipped to the Red Sox on July 12. Payroll flexibility comes with such moves, but so does the pain of losing a friend from the organization.
Rios received praise from everyone asked in the White Sox clubhouse following Friday's 7-5 Game 1 loss to the Twins. The 42-70 White Sox also understood the reason why Thornton, Rios, Jesse Crain and Jake Peavy no longer were practicing their craft in Chicago.
"We have nobody to blame but ourselves with the way we've played to this point," said John Danks, who started but finished with a no-decision in Friday's opener. "That's just part of the game. Obviously, we wish them well, but we're going to have to play better the last couple of months to salvage a little bit. We all have pride. None of us like losing. We have to go out there and win every game we can."
"That's the name of the game. That's why this stuff happens, because we haven't played well," Beckham said. "It's frustrating, but you know it is part of the game, so you just have to take it in stride."
The White Sox clearly have an understanding of reasons for these previous moves, but the undercurrent in Friday's clubhouse suggests the hope that no other major moves are coming down the line. Even with the unknown of Konerko's future, a veteran presence such as Adam Dunn would be able to supplement the youthful core in the lineup and in the clubhouse.
Hahn has discussed a reload, as opposed to a rebuild, which makes sense with the White Sox pitching depth. They also have the aforementioned payroll flexibility to add on, saving $40 million between now and the end of '14 if Rios and Peavy's salaries are factored in for next season.
Knowing that the White Sox are headed in the right direction while not giving up on '14 produces a positive outlook to future staples such as Beckham and Sale.
"We'll have most of these guys back I think," Beckham said. "It's going to be a little different from here on out but you know what, we've got some young guys and we'll see how they can play. That will be fun, hopefully."
"Your plan every year is to win," Sale said. "That's the main consensus in the clubhouse and through the organization, putting a winning team on the field. So however it shakes out it will. We still have a lot of baseball left this year going forward. So I try not to put too much emphasis on that stuff."