CHICAGO – Just when the White Sox thought things couldn’t get worse – only halfway through a season littered with bad losses, ugly offense and poor pitching – they lose their most valuable trade chip.
Reliever Jesse Crain’s addition to the disabled list – who along with Paul Konerko on Wednesday became the Sox’s ninth and 10th players, respectively to land on the DL this season – adds to the organization’s troubles in a season going nowhere.
The Sox’s bad fortune prompted one reporter to ask manager Robin Ventura if he had started drinking.
“Water? Water’s pretty good,” Ventura said with a wry smile.
Ventura might need something a little stronger to make it through the final 81 games, particularly after watching the Sox lose to the Orioles, 4-2, on Wednesday when a tied game slipped away in the eighth inning.
“If there’s anything that can go wrong this year for the White Sox, it has gone wrong, and it just keeps on happening,” Crain said. “ … You can’t explain baseball. That’s why things on paper are always totally different than how they play out. You’ve got to go through injuries and flukey things that happen in this sport.”
Crain’s right shoulder strain tightens the window that the Sox have to cash in on him for potentially quality prospects. He’s one of the best relievers in the game, yet the Sox’s decision to hold off on trading him – whether it’s because general manager Rick Hahn continues to hold out hope they’ll turn it around or the lack of compelling trade offers for Crain – the South Siders are left to figure out where to go from here.
Wednesday’s loss dropped the Sox to 33-48 this season. Only the Marlins and Astros have fewer wins in the majors, both with 31.
“We’re trying to get through the All-Star break,” Ventura said. “When you sit here without having Paulie and Crain in there, you don’t have your regular guys as far as turning it around and guys are going to have to step it up. We’ll get to that point first before we start looking beyond that.”
It’s difficult to envision where the Sox go from here. Unable to trade Crain until some point after the All-Star break when he proves his shoulder is OK, the Sox might hold off on moving any other players until then. Ventura doesn’t have many options with his lineup, though Konerko’s absence affords him some flexibility in moving players around. Dayan Viciedo could get an extended look at hitting higher in the lineup while guys such as Jordan Danks and Brent Morel have a chance to get more at-bats.
But the Sox know it’s only a matter of time before teammates and friends are traded. From there, it’ll be much harder to turn around the Sox’s struggles.
“It’s not something you can avoid,” Adam Dunn said of trades. “It’s part of the game and we’re not idiots. We know what’s going on.”
• 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.