MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Hahn isn’t ready to call it a season.
Hours before their series opener against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Tuesday night, the White Sox general manager declared his underachieving club still has time to change its fortunes.
The first-year GM knows the White Sox, who entered Tuesday 9 1/2 games behind the first-place Detroit Tigers, don’t have a ton of leeway.
But at the same time, even though he admits the phone has rung a good amount with potential buyers, Hahn doesn’t want to signal an end to the season by making his players available on the trade market. Hahn’s willingness to give his team more chances is based on the belief the club is much better than its 29-38 mark and it has 60 games (Tuesday included) left against American League Central foes.
“I know there’s frustration in the clubhouse,” Hahn said. “There’s obviously frustration among fans, among staff. But we do have a fair amount of time left to get this thing right. We’ve been saying that for a while now, and it is obviously time to get going if we’re going to make that run. … We’re still halfway through June. We aren’t halfway through the season yet. We haven’t played the first place team in our division yet.”
The White Sox still won’t face Detroit for another three weeks.
Over that period, they hope to right many of the wrongs that have plagued them this season, including a poor offense, bad baserunning and an even worse defense. Starting with the Twins, the White Sox play 10 of 12 contests within the AL Central. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said his team “will take anybody right now,” but also admits playing within the division has some advantages.
“It’s nice when you win because you kind of catch somebody,” Ventura said. “(You’re) focusing more on the process of what we’re doing than looking up at the scoreboard or standings.”
Another reason for Hahn’s optimistic approach -- besides the fact that it’d be poor of him to reveal his hand so early -- is the optimism in the clubhouse. White Sox players are frustrated, without question. But the veteran nature of the roster also means players know their season can only turn around if they continue to work. The team has also maintained a positive atmosphere despite tough times as evidenced by Monday’s postgame victory soundtrack, which included tunes like ‘We Are The World.’
“Those are the games are going to decide whether we make it or not,” outfielder Alex Rios said. “The optimism is there. We haven’t quit. Just because we’re going through this funk doesn’t mean we’re going to quit. We’re just going to have grind it out until we get hot again.”
If they don’t get hot, and soon, expect any and every contender to lob Hahn a phone call.
Rios, who brought a .288 average, 11 homers and 11 stolen bases into Tuesday’s game, promises to be at the top of several wish lists.
So too would Jake Peavy, if he were made available, and reliever Jesse Crain. Alexei Ramirez and Alejandro De Aza would draw interest as well as would others, including left-handed reliever Matt Thornton and righty Matt Lindstrom.
But Hahn doesn’t want to discuss any names publicly and for good reason.
“I don’t think it’s fair, regardless of the path we take over the next six weeks … for me to then sit there and say ‘Well this guy could go,’ or ‘That guy’s not going to go,’ ” Hahn said. “That’s not going to be fair to the unit and what they’re trying to accomplish on a given night.”
Hahn won’t to deal in hypotheticals, either.
If the White Sox get to the point where they decide to peddle their players, Hahn won’t be moved to sell earlier than planned if another merchandiser begins to unload its product.
He figures the estimated value of his trade chips means he doesn’t need to move until he’s prepared.
“If we get to the point of looking to add or subtract, it’s going to be based upon what we’re able to receive in return and it being at a certain level that makes sense for us long term,” Hahn said. “If we get to that point, we’re going to be pretty popular. We already have received a fair amount of phone calls and I suspect that will continue unless we turn this thing around and start being the ones on the dialing end of things.”