With new skipper, White Sox shift focus to adjusting roster

Katz, Hasler will return; Montoyo will join Grifol's staff as bench coach

November 3rd, 2022

CHICAGO -- Now that Pedro Grifol is in the fold as the new White Sox manager, the primary focus moves to fixing the roster.

Fix actually is too strong of a word. General manager and senior vice president Rick Hahn and even Grifol in the nascent stages of his job understand changes need to be made to move this group back toward the playoff squads of 2020-21 and away from the disappointment of ’22. But wholesale changes might not be on the horizon for this talented crew.

“We view this as still a championship-caliber core,” Hahn said. “Obviously, we had significant regression across the board in several key players. Job one is figuring out which of those is correctable and how we’re going to get them back on track and performing at levels we previously saw that was reasonable to project them for last season before they fell off.

“If we’re able to accomplish that with numerous players, wholesale changes or radical shift in direction is by no means necessary. Are there areas we need to improve? Absolutely. Whether it’s regaining our offensive approach or staying healthier, those are two keys to our success going forward. But improving ourselves defensively, how we run the bases, a little better lineup balance, approach to each at-bat is called for as well.

“Whether that comes from internal improvement or external additions ultimately, we’re hoping for a combination of both,” Hahn said. “We don’t view this as drastic wholesale changes. We need to get these guys back to the level they’re capable of playing.”

Hahn added that there is an analytical element in terms of studying the underlying performance of the players who regressed, “as to what is repeatable going forward, what is the cause and concern.”

“We have to understand what guys are dealing with, how we project their health and availability,” Hahn continued. “But then, look [at] the roster. We had a few guys playing out of position last year just out of the way the roster fit together and then driven more significantly due to the injuries.

“We want to avoid that going forward. We want to get to the point where we have guys playing in a role they’re more suited for. If that means we have to make some alterations from the roster from the outside, then that’s the route we’ll have to go.”

Coaching staff announcements
Pitching coach Ethan Katz and assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach Curt Hasler will join Grifol’s staff as what appear to be the lone holdovers from Tony La Russa’s tenure.

“That’s an area where, as a manager, keeping a pitching coach that’s here and a bullpen coach and them having relationships built already as opposed to, me, a new manager coming in having to build those relationships and then a pitching coach having to build those, that’s a really cool thing,” Grifol said. “[Katz] can help facilitate some of these relationships, which just expedites our trust for each other.”

Charlie Montoyo, who managed the Blue Jays from 2019 into 2022, will become Grifol’s bench coach.

“It was a collaborative effort,” said Hahn of bringing on Montoyo. “It was something we talked about in our second meeting. Charlie has a sterling reputation in this game and is viewed as one of the finer bench coaches of the last decade plus or so.”

Communication and relationship skills are important to Grifol for filling out the rest of his staff. Work ethic and creativity also have to be off the charts, according to Grifol.