Grifol, coaches prepare, hold each other accountable

March 10th, 2023

MESA, Ariz. -- A long day at the ballpark should have ended around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday night for White Sox manager Pedro Grifol and his staff following a loss in Surprise to the Royals.

But there was still another two hours of work to be done back at the Camelback Ranch White Sox facilities: the coaching staff's daily postgame meeting. It’s this attention to detail across every facet of Spring Training that has made the group so impressive in the early stages of the year.

“We try to be a day ahead. Do travel list, game lineups. Fundamentals, all sorts of stuff,” White Sox Major League field coordinator Mike Tosar told in a recent interview. “It’s not about results right now. It’s about the process we are doing right now and putting things together. The results will be there if we continue the focus of just heading in the right direction, heading north with our fundamentals and stuff like that. Having the correct process, the results will be there in the end.”

Tosar has been friends with Grifol for 45 years by Grifol’s estimation, since they were somewhere around 10 years old, per Tosar. Third base and infield coach Eddie Rodriguez and hitting coach José Castro also have a long history together.

Those friendships enhance the goal of preparing the White Sox as thoroughly as possible for the start of the 2023 season, and continuing that process well beyond the season’s first pitch. But the group's closeness doesn’t stand in the way of making the right decisions.

“There’s something to working with friends and just having a friendship while you work, and then there’s another thing to holding each other accountable and being able to tell each other whatever it is,” Grifol said. “Yes, we are friends. And we’ve been together for a long time and in different places.

“This is our work, and we hold each other accountable. I’ve had one of them come in here and shut the door and tell me, ‘Hey, clean it up’ about certain things. That’s the kind of relationship we have. We are here to work and here to do things right, and when we are not, there’s nothing that’s going to hold us back from saying, ‘Clean it up,’ for sure.”

The group also holds pregame meetings, which isn’t out of the norm for coaching staffs around the game. The postgame discussions feature somewhere between 25 and 30 people, including the front office, training staff, and personnel from sports performance, player development and analytics.

From the beginning of camp, Grifol and his crew not only expected mistakes, but almost welcomed them. Get them out of the way now, the thinking went, and clean them up in time for the regular season. Grifol runs the show, but it’s a collaborative effort across the board.

“Absolutely. He’s got an open forum. Speak your mind,” Tosar said. “Once we leave that room, we are expected to execute our plan. You have nothing to say in there? Then execute your plan. You have something to say? Let’s talk about it, and then execute your plan.”

Don’t think the rigors of the 162-game regular season will slow down these meetings, even at the most tiring moments, when the Sox play day games after night games or wrap up a night game then get on a flight. It’s the way this group has done it, and they're not going to stop.

“Once the season starts, it will be a little different,” Tosar said. “But we are still going to put in the time, and the meetings are going to be very, very similar. Talk about details that we need to cover, we need to get better at. So, we are just laying the groundwork and the foundation right now.”

In growing up together, Tosar knows Grifol as someone who is “very, very bright” and “very well prepared.” And now Grifol will be leading a group of friends trying to win together in Chicago.

“We came from the same tree. We are all from the South and we’ve had relationships for a long time,” Tosar said. “We will disagree. We will see things differently at times. At the end of the day, we all got each other’s back. Everything is taken the right way.”