It turns out the Twitter frenzy was just over a guy getting pulled for not hustling.
The White Sox lost to Atlanta, 6-4, Friday night at U.S. Cellular Field, but the outcome of the game became secondary when manager Robin Ventura pulled outfielder Alex Rios after the sixth inning. Rios grounded into a double play to end the sixth and didn't hustle up the line, which is why he was yanked from the game.
"That was very related," Ventura said. "We expect more than that. It was simple. Nothing more than that."
But long before Ventura could explain why he pulled his right fielder -- who had a two-run double in the third -- things weren't exactly simple. Some noticed Rios hugging teammates in the White Sox dugout, viewing it as a sign the sought-after outfielder had been traded. #HugWatch churned into full effect on Twitter, with speculation surrounding the Pittsburgh Pirates as Rios' destination.
"I just told him he was coming out. That was it," Ventura said. “He knows. There’s not a long explanation required.”
The loss dropped the White Sox to 37-56, only adding to a position that may lead the team to sell off Rios and some of his teammates before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. John Danks allowed five runs on seven hits in seven innings, with the three-run homer he surrendered to Brian McCann in the sixth serving as the difference in the loss.
"That’s what we are going to have to do," Danks said when asked about Ventura pulling Rios. "We said all along we are going to play as hard as we can and try to win every game until the season is over. You know, that’s part of being here."
"He’s going to do what he thinks is right," second baseman Gordon Beckham added. "That’s his call. If that’s what he thinks, that’s what goes. There is no more than needs to be said than that."
Ventura wasn't worried about hurting Rios' trade value, even as the focus for the next dozen days shifts toward who the Sox may deal away and what they'll get in return. Over and over, Ventura's said he's only concerned with managing the guys he has that given day.
And that's why Rios was pulled. The outfielder hasn't been traded just yet.
"There’s just expectations, and we’re not starting the second half off that way," Ventura said. "It was simple. He’ll be back in, but tonight, that’s what happens when you don’t run.”