White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto acknowledges funk, stresses patience
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN email@example.com April 30, 2013 10:42PM
Updated: June 2, 2013 6:39AM
ARLINGTON, Texas — Jeff Manto believes in his guys. Not that you would expect less from the positive-thinking White Sox hitting coach.
Manto exists in a hitting world steeped in failure. Even when his guys are going good, they’re making outs 70 percent of the time, so the Manto mantra is to stay positive even in bad times.
Which, for the 10-15 Sox, is now.
“I just think we’re trying too hard,’’ Manto said before the Sox opened their second road trip with a 10-6 loss to the Texas Rangers Tuesday. “We’ve got guys who really care. They really care about winning. They care about their at-bats. They care about their teammates.’’
In Manto’s second season since taking over for Greg Walker — who incurred the public’s wrath whenever the Sox went into hitting slumps — the Sox will look back at April as almost a total bust. Aside from ranking fourth in home runs with 29 going into Tuesday’s loss, they ranked 13th, 14th or 15th among 15 American League teams in just about every other important offensive category: runs per game (3.46), average (.229), slugging percentage (.382), on-base percentage (.280) and average with runners in scoring position (.188).
“I understand that it’s tough to hit,’’ Manto said. “It’s one of those things that’s part of the game. And I do understand if they don’t hit I’ll [bear] the brunt of it, and that’s fine, that comes with the territory and that’s the way it should be. We keep on working. These guys haven’t backed off their work nor have [assistant coach Harold Baines] and I.’’
A month into the season, Manto won’t change his theories and guidance methods. Whatever he did last year, it was good enough to place his team fourth in runs scored, so he will stick with what brought him here.
“These guys are fundamentally sound,’’ Manto said. “Most of these guys mechanically are sound. I just think right now it’s ‘get comfortable.’ This game as you know is a roller coaster. Unfortunately right now we are where we are. But we anticipate being fine.’’
The Sox nicked Rangers starter Yu Darvish for four runs over six innings, including a two-run homer by Dewayne Wise (4-for-4), but second baseman Tyler Greene and left fielder Alejandro De Aza made errors behind Jose Quintana. Then the bullpen blew up in the sixth when the Rangers (17-9)
scored six against Matt Lindstrom (1-2), Donnie Veal and Nate Jones to build a 10-4 lead. Jones took the biggest pounding, unloading two run-scoring wild pitches and giving up a home run to Adrian Beltre, Texas’ third long ball of the night.
Adam Dunn hit his sixth homer to left field in the seventh against Tanner Scheppers, a good sign for him and Manto, but too little, too late for the Sox, who were
2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and have lost three straight.
“It’s really frustrating,’’ Wise said. “Our bullpen and starters have kept us in most of the games but our offense has struggled all month. We can’t find a way to get runners across home plate when we get them in scoring position. I don’t know if we’re trying to do too much, but at the same time nobody is stressing about it. We all know what we can do.’’
“Keep playing games,’’ manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s that simple. You just play better … and you have to be mentally strong enough to keep playing and grinding it out and doing the right things and all that stuff and that’s the only way you do it. There’s no magic potion. You have to be mentally strong to be able to do it, and we’re going to find it.”