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Manager Robin Ventura urges Sox to keep playing hard, but change is coming

Josh Phegley Joe McEwing

Josh Phegley, Joe McEwing

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Updated: July 7, 2013 9:27PM



ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Manager Robin Ventura never would say the White Sox are throwing in the towel. But everyone in the clubhouse knows the Sox won’t be constructed as they are much longer.

‘‘You never get to a point where you’re just giving up,’’ Ventura said Sunday. ‘‘There could be a time when direction is a little different. If it ends up that guys do get traded, it does become different. With these guys, you don’t quit. It’s still a professional game, and they have the obligation of going out there and performing at their best. There’s never any change of just trying to win games.’’

The Sox tried but again failed Sunday, losing 3-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays despite a solid start from John Danks and catcher Josh Phegley’s first career home run. The Sox
(34-51), who have lost nine of their last 11 games and 27 of their last 37, were swept in a series for the
seventh time.

When you’re 17 games below .500 before the All-Star break for the first time since 1989, maximum
effort seems harder to come by. There have been more instances of not running hard on routine grounders than usual, although none were evident Sunday.

‘‘It’s been mentioned,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘But again, any time you get down and you feel like your back is against the wall, the first thing you have to make sure you’re doing is doing everything you can, running hard. Because any time you don’t, it kind of adds to the disgust of not
doing well.’’

Fans, coaches and players alike are disgusted. And the day-in, day-out nature of baseball only drags out the misery.

‘‘It gets tougher, I think, every day,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘In the last week and a half, we had the one [against the Cleveland Indians] where you drop five [runs] in the first inning and give it right back. It gets tougher when you’re down to grind back, but this is what you have to do. . . . It’s a grind, and it’s not easy. It’s not meant to be easy.’’

It hasn’t been easy for outfielder Alex Rios, one of the Sox’ few productive players in April and May and one of their more attractive trade chips as the July 31 deadline approaches. Rios, who was 1-for-4, is 7-for-43 in his last 11 games and
15-for-79 (.190) with no homers and five RBI in his last 20.

‘‘I don’t know the reason, exactly,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘He’s not squaring it up as much. . . . Probably a little of all the rumors going around. That does affect people in certain ways. I don’t know if that’s him, but it’s probably leading to it.’’

‘‘It doesn’t [affect me],’’ Rios said. ‘‘At this point, we shouldn’t be worried about what’s going to happen because you just can’t control it. You have to wait it out. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. Not much to it.’’

One good thing from this lost weekend was Danks, who was outpitched by David Price but lasted at least seven innings for the third consecutive outing. Danks (2-6, 4.31 ERA), who has allowed six earned runs in those three games, has
received 2.55 runs of support per outing this season.

‘‘I try not to worry about things I can’t control,’’ Danks said. ‘‘My job is to put up zeros. I gave up three. Had I done my job, we would have won 1-0. That’s unrealistic every time out, but there’s no finger-pointing.

‘‘It’s been a tough road to this point. We’re going to keep grinding it out, and we’re going to play the season out. We’re all professionals here. We all have a lot of pride. This isn’t fun for us.’’



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