CHICAGO – White Sox manager Robin Ventura had seen enough.
Ventura has never been one to call many meetings during two seasons with the Sox, but with his team sitting in last place in the American League Central – largely because of sloppy defense and lack of execution at the plate – he held a team meeting before Saturday’s game against the Angels.
“It’s just at a point where I needed to say some stuff and I did,” Ventura said.
Ventura’s message didn’t make a difference, at least not Saturday. The Sox (14-20) committed three errors and left six runners on base in a 3-2 loss to the Angels.
“It wasn’t like jumping us like crazy, but it also wasn’t the old upbeat positive one,” Konerko said of the meeting. “It was probably somewhere in the middle. Sometimes meetings like that, it doesn’t come out right away, it takes a few days. It’s kind of a delayed effect.”
In a showdown between the two worst defensive teams in the American League, the Sox’s defensive miscues ultimately cost them the game. Second baseman Tyler Greene threw away a routine grounder, rushing his throw to first as Josh Hamilton ran down the line. Instead of recording the final out of the third, Greene’s error set up the game-winning run. Albert Pujols advanced to third on the play and scored four pitches later on catcher Tyler Flowers’ passed ball to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.
The Sox’s mistakes haven’t been limited to just one player. Center fielder Alejandro De Aza picked up his fourth error of the season in the first when he mishandled Hamilton’s hit while Adam Dunn, starting at first base, dropped a pop up in shallow right field, although he recovered to throw out Pujols at first when he went too far rounding the base.
“This year it’s been the mistakes we make, the hits we don’t get, it’s coming from a place of trying too hard,” Konerko said. “ … If we weren’t going about it right, there would be issues there. It’s just not the case.”
Ventura classified most of the Sox’s errors as physical, not mental, mistakes. But that doesn’t justify the Sox’s five errors in two games against the Angels. Saturday’s three-error performance was their seventh multiple error game of the season and their second game with at least three.
“Those are things I don’t control,” starting pitcher Jose Quintana said through a translator. “I’m sure my teammates didn’t want to make a mistake.”
Through 34 games, the Sox’s 27 errors tie them with the Angels for most in the AL and fourth in the majors. The Sox didn’t commit their 27th error until June 8 last season.
“Physical stuff you get, but you know it’s just one of those that you do have to do it better,” Ventura said. “It’s that simple.”
At this point, the Sox can only hope they break out of their funk. They’re 31/2 games back – of fourth-place Minnesota. The Sox haven’t given any indications this team is capable of competing for a playoff spot.
“I feel if we just keep going at it the right way, it’s got to come out,” Konerko said. “You’ve got to believe that. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that, but as a player I’ve seen it happen a lot.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sox Insider and Inside the Cubs blogs at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.