As errors mount, Ventura puts Sox to work in pregame practice

As errors mount, Ventura puts Sox to work in pregame practice

May 14, 2013, 6:30 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Alexei Ramirez’s nap on Tuesday afternoon spoke volumes about the team’s pregame activities.

Ninety minutes after the White Sox hit the field for an early defensive session in 90-degree weather, Ramirez lay face first on the clubhouse floor in front of his locker stall with a towel over his head and napped for an hour.

Ramirez’s rest sounds as if it was warranted as the White Sox hit the field for an obligatory extra practice in the midday heat to get their heads in the right place.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura described the 45-minute session as part message, part refresher course -- and he won’t hesitate to authorize another practice until his team gets it right. Ventura and his coaches have made it quite clear they’re not pleased by the extremely poor defense played by the team to start the 2013 season.

“You get their attention and the things you consider unacceptable,” Ventura said. “There’s consequences to everything that goes on, but there is a responsibility to get it right, too. When it’s sloppy you need to figure out ways to let them realize it can’t go on. This is one way that it’s done.”

[More: After another sloppy loss, Ventura hints change could be coming]

Adam Dunn knew some sort of intervention would take place.

Through 36 games the White Sox have a .978 fielding percentage, tied for worst in baseball with the Cubs and Washington Nationals. The Sox have committed an error in five straight games and are 5-15 when they commit one.  

Dunn was on the field for Monday night’s 10-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, when the White Sox committed their American League-leading 29th error and made a number of mental mistakes as well. So Dunn wasn’t surprised when coaches called for the team to take grounders five hours before first pitch. He also noted how players were on board with the practice.

Last season, the White Sox committed an MLB-low 70 errors.

“There’s a need to do that especially the way we have got guys out of position on things you worked on the first day of spring training,” Dunn said. “Somewhere down the line we got away from what we did really well last year. Today kind of put everybody back to doing the little things we needed to do and relearning. It was good.”

[Watch: Robin Ventura's comments following Monday's game]

Both Ventura and Paul Konerko thought the quality of the work was good. Konerko now hopes its translates into game action.

“It was focused, good work,” Konerko said. “We’re better than what we’ve been playing defensively. It’s not even the plays we’ve made errors on. Its plays that don’t have an error attached to them that we know we have to get better at. It’s that sloppy play that we have to tighten up. It’s rough, no doubt about that on a lot of counts. But you just got come in every day saying, ‘We’re going to look back three months from now and say this was the day we turned it.’ If it doesn’t happen today, we think tomorrow. It’s the way it has to be.”

Ventura insists the practice will continue as long as the White Sox play sloppy defense. Although it would take a restructuring of their pregame activities, Ventura and his coaches won’t hesitate to work players hard until they grasp the concept they’re trying to instill.

“They have to realize what’s important,” Ventura said. “It can happen again. So, you keep working on it till you get it right. As far as getting after it, staying on it, you do it again.”