Wait until next year? White Sox say it’s time to change the terrible tone set in the first half

CLEVELAND – Losing games can make a team look lethargic and sloppy at times.

“In the position we’re in, it’s easy to get the season together and start thinking about next year,” left fielder Andrew Benintendi said of the White Sox, who ended a five-game losing streak with a 7-4 win Saturday vs. Keepers. “This year is pretty much over, but you definitely don’t want to give it away.”

Manager Pedro Grifol and his staff still insist on the value of winning games over the past two months. Clearing the ground and establishing a culture for the start of the 2024 season are big things.

Benintendi, who signed a five-year, $75 million contract before the start of the season — the richest contract in Sox history — didn’t come to the Southside to lose. He played in four postseasons, including the 2018 World Series with the Red Sox. The club expects the administration to do everything possible to prevent another terrible season.

“That’s hope,” Benintendi told the Sun-Times. “I signed up here to win games and get into the playoffs. Time will show. As a player, you control what you can control. Just prepare and be available. That’s what I’ll be doing.”

Meanwhile, as seven players, including six pitchers, were sent before the trade deadline, the rest of the players say they are fixated on setting the tone for 2024.

“It’s about creating a winning culture and building from the ground up,” said outfielder/baseman Gavin Sheets. “We are not going to come next year without expecting to compete. We need to have that mindset right now.

“The foundation starts now. We need to come together and start building and playing good baseball. We have two months of major league baseball left. It cannot be taken for granted.”

Sheets, the son of former major leaguer Larry Sheets, who spent eight seasons with three teams, defined a “culture” as players who support each other and all have the same intentions and play hard.

“And show it to other teams,” Sheets said. “I wouldn’t say it was lacking (in the first half). Someone from the outside will see it, but we just need to show other teams that we are here to win. This should be our motto and the tone we should set for next year. We can do it now.”

To Grifall talking about how to play fundamental baseball better, Benintendi said there are things on the field that can be worked out.

“Just going back to the little things during these two months,” Benintendi said. “Production cycles and the like”.

Bench coach Charlie Montoyo, who has managed the Blue Jays for more than three seasons, said the build-up of momentum for next season is “huge.”

“The other (what’s important right now) is that the new players show what they’re capable of so we don’t have to wait for spring training,” Montoyo said. “If I am a player, I am very happy that I have the chance to show what I am capable of.”

With six veteran pitchers traded before the deadline, several new faces from Triple-A Charlotte will get major league opportunities. First-class position players like catcher Corey Lee and infielder Lenin Sosa could soon find their way into the big leagues.

“Our job is to win baseball games, but our job is to prepare to really appreciate these last two months and understand what we need to do to prepare for 24,” Grifall said.

“There are new guys here who are fresh and full of energy – go out and get your feet wet, gain experience and see what you can do in the last two months,” Benintendi said. “Show what you can do to the front office and coaching staff.”

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