CHICAGO | White Sox players did not need general manager Rick Hahn to verbalize his message they need to step it up … or else.
They already have the self-expectation to improve, and they know full well changes will be forthcoming if they dig their hole, approaching 10 games under .500, any deeper.
After Friday’s 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics, the Sox are 1-5 since Hahn’s interview Sunday on AM 670 The Score. He said if improvement does not take place, “some guys who were counting on spending their summers in Chicago very likely won’t be.”
“We know that already,” said reliever Matt Thornton, who has dealt with trade rumors most of his eight seasons with the Sox. “He’s just putting it out in the media that it’s going to happen if we don’t start playing better. We’ve all been around long enough that we know if we don’t play well, things change.
“I’m pretty sure to a man everyone’s going to agree he’s right.”
Hahn said he noticed a “lack of energy” sometimes, prompting meetings between some players and manager Robin Ventura, his coaches and at times the GM. The patience Hahn said he would exercise has an expiration date with deals heating up in the weeks prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Supervising his first amateur draft as GM, Hahn was unavailable for further comment Friday.
While acknowledging Hahn is dead-on accurate, other Sox players said his message won’t be a distraction on the field. They know roster change is part of baseball, win or lose.
“I don’t think it puts any extra pressure on anybody,” said closer Addison Reed. “Everybody in this room knows this is a business. I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore where they team you’re drafted by is the team you play 15 to 20 years for. It makes it a little harder to keep (together) a team that’s not performing to the standards that kind of had.
“I don’t think anybody … is going up to bat thinking about they might get traded, or any of us pitchers are on the mound thinking in between pitches that we might be traded.”
Right fielder Alex Rios said the Sox know their goal.
“This is just an unfortunate situation we’re going through,” he said. “It’s not that anyone is not trying hard enough or doing anything different. We are really trying. I don’t think (Hahn’s comments) changes anything.”
Rios could be marketable to a contender needing a run producer. He has just one more guaranteed season at $12.5 million annually. Hahn won’t be the only baseball name talking Sox trades as July 31 approaches, but Rios said he tunes out the talk.
“You have to focus on the things you do on a daily basis,” he said.