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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Daryl Van Schouwen

Managing “chemistry” a key for White Sox manager Pedro Grifol in second season

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol talks to media at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. (Daryl Van Schouwen)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Lessons learned from 2023?

For first-year manager Pedro Grifol, it was the value of team chemistry, and that managing is more than what happens during the nine innings of a game.

“A lot of this job doesn’t pertain to baseball,” Grifol said at the winter meetings Monday. “It just pertains to management, managing the clubhouse, and managing the chemistry. Chemistry is real. Some people don’t believe in it. I believe in it.”

Grifol will implement a plan to that end beginning in spring training of his second year.

“Off the field, in the dugout and in the clubhouse, I learned how to manage through adversity,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that come up during the major league season that even with me in my experience and the jobs that I’ve held, there’s things that come up that you haven’t experienced before.”

Grifol’s first season was a disaster for the entire organization, and he will have a lot on the line next season as he gets a second chance to prove he belongs.

“I‘ve reflected a ton,” he said. “There’s things that I feel I could have done better, and I will be better. We will be better.”

Better defensively

Grifol expects free agent shortstop Paul DeJong and second baseman Nicky Lopez to solidify the middle of the infield.

“When we talk about getting more rounded, that’s what it’s about,” Grifol said. “What those guys can do defensively, and obviously we’re not done. It’s the type of game that wins games at the major league level. You have to play fundamental baseball to compete at that level, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Love for Robert Jr.

General manager Chris Getz last month said there are “no untouchables” on the Sox as far as trade chips, but All-Star center fielder Luis Robert Jr. is about as close as one gets.

“I have a tough time seeing him in another uniform,” Getz said.

“Luis Robert is a very difficult player to move and expect that your club is going to get better because of it. That being said there might be a club out there that is willing to offer something that you feel can help you immediately and in the long term But we’re talking about one of the best players in baseball and we’re very fortunate to have him with the Chicago White Sox.”

Robert Jr. is under club control for four more seasons. He signed a six-year, $50 million extension before 2020, has $20 million club options for 2026 and 2027.

Love for Leyland

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and senior adviser Tony La Russa attended inductee Jim Leyland’s press conference Monday. Leyland, who was La Russa’s third base coach with the Sox from 1982-85, managed Pittsburgh, Florida, Colorado and Detroit from 1986 to 2013.

“The amazing thing is the number of people who are thrilled for him,” Reinsdorf said. “It’s amazing how well-loved this guy is.”

Reinsdorf said he tried bringing Leyland back to the Sox as a manager when Leyland wasn’t managing during the early 2000s.

“We had a reunion of the 1983 team in 2003 and I asked him about coming back and he said he wasn’t going to come back [to managing],” Reinsdorf said. “And a couple years later [in 2006] he comes back in our division [with Detroit]. I called him, with a couple of expletives. He came back and he did great.”

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