CHICAGO -- The 2016 White Sox season had just come to a close when Chris Sale, the starting and losing pitcher in Chicago's 6-3 loss Sunday, was already thinking about the 2017 campaign and team improvement.
"We leave with an empty feeling inside," Sale said. "But next year we have a group of guys in here, and we've talked about it in recent weeks, to make some changes around here, doing some things better collectively as players to put a better product on the field."
One change already began to take place Sunday, when Robin Ventura announced his five-year tenure as manager had come to a close. Bench coach Rick Renteria, who managed the Cubs in 2014, was named the next White Sox manager on Monday morning.
While the team never reached the playoffs under Ventura, coming closest when it held the American League Central lead for 117 days in 2012, the players had nothing but support for their leader.
"He's a nice guy, he's a good manager and has all my respect as a person and as a manager, too," said White Sox first baseman José Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo. "I want to thank Robin because since the first moment I've been here he welcomed me and he supported me."
"I loved working with Robin," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "We talked during the game. It didn't work out the way that any of us would have wanted. It's the way things go. Somebody pays the price, and it's a good guy paying the price. It's sad."
"Over the last five years he did everything in his power to help us win games, honestly," Sale said, implying Ventura did all he could with the hand the was dealt. "Obviously it didn't work out as planned, but he wasn't exactly given two aces out of the gate. He did the best with what he had, and I'm appreciative of that."
Getting a new voice sometimes becomes a needed switch in a clubhouse, without assigning responsibility for failure to the past manager. And Sale praised Ventura for recognizing that fact.
"If you're going to make a big change, something drastic needs to happen," Sale said. "You can't do the same things over and over and expect things to change.
"More than anything people should look at what he said and respect that. Not all people can stand up in these lights and say that. You have to have respect for him, and he's as good as they get. You know that, too."
When asked if reaching the postseason drives him, Sale responded "every day, even in the offseason." Sale spoke for his teammates with that particular sentiment.
"What year is this, eight that we haven't made the playoffs? It's not good. We want to change that, we've tried to change that," Sale said. "Don't get me wrong, we're as frustrated as anyone in the world. We're the ones doing it. So we're probably more frustrated.
"We want to make some changes, shake things up and change the name, change the tone of the Chicago White Sox. Just be a better team, be a better organization, get to the promise land, to the playoffs to show what we've been working for the last 'X' amount of years."