As Sox slump, Ventura urges hitters to stay strong

As Sox slump, Ventura urges hitters to stay strong
June 1, 2013, 2:30 pm
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- The White Sox realize they’re at a possible tipping point when it comes to in which direction they head this season.

A day after they became the first team to be shut out by a 40-year-old pitcher in nearly six years -- their fourth loss in a row -- the White Sox have begun to take stock of their offense.

With 52 games played, they’re beginning to realize they can’t continue to say it’s early in the season and that, in reality, they’re closer to a you-are-what-you-are state.

When asked Saturday morning about the performance put on by Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon a night earlier, second baseman Jeff Keppinger asked how long the team can continue to deflect by noting how good the opposing pitcher performed. The White Sox aren’t disputing Colon’s five-hit shutout -- they know he pitched well. They have just begun to wonder aloud how much part they have played in those outstanding performances.

“How many times are you going to say (it was) how he pitched or how you approached it and went about it as an offense?” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s always a question that’s there. You have to find a way to make it tougher.”

[More: Colon stymies White Sox]

Ventura has done his best to not sugarcoat anything in the wake of the White Sox struggles. He sees a pitching staff that has worked overtime to keep the White Sox competitive. Of their 52 games, 40 have been decided by three runs or fewer.

As bad as things have been for the White Sox, who have averaged 3.5 runs per game, Ventura knows it can get worse.

In 1991, a team that won 87 games lost nine in a row in mid-August as the offense slumped. The White Sox were shut out four times in nine games and scored 23 times total, 15 of which came in two of those nine games. The White Sox went from trailing the A’s by 3 1/ 2 games on Aug. 18 to nine out by Aug. 28.

Ventura said it’s important for his hitters to stay strong mentally or the White Sox can find themselves in much worse shape.

“It can always get worse,” Ventura said. “You can run off 10 in a row like this if you aren’t careful. … You have to have the mental discipline to be able to put yesterday behind you and look at today optimistically with some sort of offensive production. It’s gotta happen. The more you sit around and think it’s not going to happen, you run into stretches where it gets longer. Last year you might have had a stretch where it didn’t go well, but eventually you got out of it. You just don’t want to go down the road of one, feeling sorry for yourself, or thinking you’re not going to get out of it because then it will 10 or 15 games.”