Sox focus on fundamentals in practice session
Addressing defensive lapses, Ventura runs position players through drills
MINNEAPOLIS -- Hindered by an ongoing rash of fielding miscues and mental lapses, the White Sox are taking a stripped-down, back-to-basics approach.
In the aftermath of the White Sox 10-3 loss to the Twins on Monday, manager Robin Ventura firmly decreed that his struggling players would be putting in extra work to rid themselves of the self-inflicted errors that have contributed to derailing their season.
As it turned out, Ventura's claim wasn't an empty promise. The Sox held an out-of-the-ordinary 45-minute practice session five hours before Tuesday night's game against the Twins at Target Field, running all position players through a variety of simple fundamental drills.
There seemed to be acceptance throughout the clubhouse that the extra practice was clearly warranted.
"There was a need to do that," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "We've got guys out of position, things you worked on the first day of your very first Spring Training. Somewhere down the line, we got away from what we did very well last year. Today kind of put everybody back to doing the little things that we needed to do."
A mistake-filled loss to the Twins one night earlier served as a breaking point of sorts. Shortstop Alexi Ramirez fumbled a playable ground ball with the bases loaded in the third inning, resulting in an error that opened the Twins up to mount a four-run outburst.
Ramirez's miscue marked the fifth straight game the White Sox have committed an error, which was an American League-high 29th of the season. Only the Cubs and the Nationals have more.
The Sox on-field flaws have gone beyond just what shows up on the scorecard. Multiple times, players have been caught out of position, missing out on chances to get key outs. Chicago's fielding percentage (.978) was tied for the lowest mark in the Majors entering Tuesday.
After falling six games under .500 (15-21), Ventura felt a wakeup call was necessary.
"You get their attention and they realize the things that you consider unacceptable. There are consequences to everything that goes on," the skipper said.
"I'm supposed to be quality control in this. That's part of coming out here and making sure everybody is doing it the way they're supposed to be doing it."
There might more fundamental workouts coming for the White Sox as Ventura alluded to a desire to hold sessions until the situation is remedied.
Konerko out of lineup for second straight game
MINNEAPOLIS -- Paul Konerko was held out of the White Sox lineup Tuesday against the Twins for the second straight game.
Following a scheduled day off for Konerko on Monday, manager Robin Ventura opted to extend the 37-year-old slugger's break. Ventura had discussed with Konerko the possibility of sitting him in consecutive games for the first time this, citing the way former Yankees manager Joe Torre handled Ventura's playing time in the latter years of his career.
"I came in ready to play, but it didn't surprise me after the conversation we had," Konerko said, recalling when he didn't see his name on the lineup card.
"Obviously I could have played yesterday. I could have played today. So it's not like I'm out for some reason. I'm trusting him on that and trying to make the best of it."
Konerko, who insists he hasn't been ailed by anything other than the typical grind, has used the time off to rejuvenate. After staying off his feet for much of Monday, Konerko did some work in the batting cage on Tuesday.
Ventura's aim in resting Konerko was fueled partly by desire to help him work out of his slump. Konerko's average has fallen to .214, having recorded only three hits in his last 25 at-bats.
"The way he was feeling, there's noting wrong with giving him two days off just to kind of reboot and feel better," Ventura said.
Offense not holding up its end of the bargain
MINNEAPOLIS -- There is no denying on how bad the White Sox offense has been in the first two months of the season. Entering Tuesday, Chicago ranked last in the American League in batting average (.229 -- 26 points below the league average), RBIs (116), runs scored (123) and on-base percentage (.281).
A 10-3 loss to the Twins on Monday in the opener in a three-game set marked the 19th time this season the White Sox have scored three runs or fewer. They have lost 13 of those 19 games.
The hitting struggles, combined with fielding miscues, have contributed to a 15-21 start to the season.
"We know we're struggling," first baseman Adam Dunn said. "It's kind of the little things that we're not doing. It's really adding to everything else. There's not a phase, except maybe pitching, that we're doing well at all. I wouldn't say we're doing anything average."
Nate Sandell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.