KANSAS CITY -- It didn't cost the White Sox, but Miguel Tejada's seventh-inning bloop single served as a microcosm of the team's sloppy play so far this season.
Alexei Ramirez and Jeff Keppinger converged on the popup, as did center fielder Dewayne Wise. In those situations, it's the center fielder's ball to catch. Instead, the ball fell to the ground in between all three players.
"It's just sloppy. It's just sloppy. It's just one of those, for me it's unacceptable stuff," manager Robin Ventura said. "It's simple stuff we've worked on over and over again, so you stay on it."
It didn't count as an error, although Keppinger booted a ball in the fifth inning to bring the team's error total to 21 in 29 games. Advanced defensive stats back up the traditional ones in this case--the White Sox defense, which was good in 2012 isn't so far in 2013.
"You work on it over and over again and you watch out here and it doesn't translate," Ventura said. "Outfielders are always responsible in that situation."
Defensive miscues have coupled with a shaky offense and an inconsistent bullpen, creating a formula that has equaled the White Sox sitting in last place in the AL Central. Significant roster changes aren't on the way, either. Ventura sees his team as accountable, and ultimately, it's up to this group of players -- and those who are on the disabled list, if/when they return -- to turn things around.
"You can't just turn over your roster and put new people in there," Ventura said. "It's just one of those, you gotta fix it, keep harping on it."
First baseman Paul Konerko isn't ready to hit the panic button. Despite the rough start to 2013, he prefers to look at the big, 162-game picture. And with that, he remembers the 2010 season, in which the White Sox were once 12-17 and, on June 8, were 24-33.
The Sox then won 25 of their next 30 games and competed for the AL Central title.
"It’s a long way to go. We’re definitely not having fun. Nobody in here is having fun," Konerko explained. "But there’s probably a team that right now is having fun and doing good and feeling good about themselves, and who knows they could have a brutal August. And we could be hot from here on out. Who knows.
"I was on a team that went 25-5 in a month. That’s the thing. But you have to show up and play, too, or it can get worse show up and give everything you got and guys have been doing that. It’s definitely frustrating and you’re not going to have as much fun, but the effort is there I feel."
Injuries, too, have certainly played a part in the White Sox slow start. Second baseman Gordon Beckham is still a ways away from returning, while left fielder Dayan Viciedo could go out on a rehab assignment later this week. Gavin Floyd may be done for the year, Jake Peavy could wind up on the disabled list and John Danks still needs at least a few more minor league rehab starts before he comes back. Keppinger's been banged up, too, as have a few others.
The White Sox should get most of those currently-shelved players back at some point, save perhaps for Floyd. But even without them, the Sox haven't played as well as they think they can.
“Overall, I don’t know how to explain it, but we haven’t been (playing) to our potential," right fielder Alex Rios said. "Hopefully this gets out of the way quick, and we can start doing the things we did last year, playing the same way, putting together good defense and good offense and from there we go. Let’s see what happens."
Sunday's loss to Kansas City may be the nadir of the season. But Konerko, who's been through plenty in his 15 years with the White Sox, explained that things can get worse, especially if the Sox get discouraged by a sloppy, unsuccessful stretch of baseball.
"Only answer is to keep grinding away," Konerko said. "It’s not the first time that has been through a tough spell, ever. You have to grind through it."