White Sox ‘have to try something else, look at struggle from a new perspective,’ SS Paul DeJong says

There wasn’t much about getting called out by their manager for being “[bleeping] flat” in a loss to the Orioles and right-hander Kyle Bradish Sunday that went over well in the White Sox clubhouse.

But shortstop Paul DeJong, the team leader in home runs (with seven) who know the ups and downs of a difficult game from his hitting struggles with different teams in recent years, understood where Pedro Grifol was coming from.

“Everyone is frustrated about losing and he’s trying to fire us up and give us a little gut-check,” DeJong told the Sun-Times before the Sox’ latest loss, a 3-1 decision against the Jays for their eighth straight defeat Wednesday. “Look deep down inside yourself and what you can do better. And we’re all guilty of taking something for granted here and there. For him to say that gives us perspective to look inside and say, ‘What can I do better?’ We move on and address that individually.”

Following a four-game sweep by the Orioles, this sweep by the Jays dealt the Sox (15-42) their first winless home stand of seven or more games in franchise history. Korey Lee’s homer in the ninth was the Sox’ fourth hit, preventing the team’s 11th shutout.

Players, managers and coaches rarely are bonded with no factions as one tight-knit unit even on winning teams, so to believe the Sox are one big happy family two months into a season headed toward record-low performance is to be fooled.

But the players, “I would say we’re still cohesive,” DeJong said, echoing what others have said throughout the season.

“Everyone still cares about each other in this clubhouse,”
DeJong said. “Our biggest challenge is to maintain that in the dugout during the game when you’re sitting there 0-for-3 and you have your teammate up there and you want to support him.”

In other words, it’s hard to avoid being occasionally “flat” when your batting average is .209 or below. The Sox had four of those (Andrew Vaughn, Dominic Fletcher, Bryan Ramos and Martin Maldonado) in the lineup Tuesday and one (Andrew Benintendi) on the bench. DeJong, who was batting .228 after his double in the seventh inning, isn’t enamored with his own numbers, either.

“And that’s kind of the missing piece I’ve seen so far, being able to put your situation on the side while you’re watching your teammates,” DeJong said. “Just root them on mentally and be there for them.”

When asked how he has kept his finger on the pulse of the clubhouse Wednesday, Grifol said the players have “done a really good job of keeping the pulse themselves.”

“We’ve had a few hiccups on the energy side of it and all that stuff, which is normal,” he said. “Over 162 games, teams are going to have that. But these guys have really been good as far as crosschecking themselves and understanding that we have to come out ready to play every single day if we want a chance to win. They’ve done a good job of that. They prepare.”

“We just have to find a way to win close games,” DeJong said. “A lot of teams see us on the schedule and they want to take advantage. We have to be thinking that way about the team we’re playing. We can’t give anything away.

“We all have to be humble here. This game will humble you and to lose as many games as we’ve lost, we can’t just keep doing some things. We have to try something else, have to look at it from a new perspective. There’s a lot of things that can be said and a lot of things that can be done. So no reason to sit back and be OK with what’s going on. Have some urgency about taking care of business and wanting to win. Wanting to put something together as a group for this fan base and this city. There’s a lot on the line every day. For us to drop what has happened and play for today is the hardest but the most productive mindset we can have.”

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