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White Sox stressing fundamentals after error-filled season

Updated: February 24, 2014 10:08PM



GLENDALE, Ariz. — Enough talk about last season — although a little reminder now and then doesn’t hurt.

As the White Sox go through spring-training drills, ‘‘getting it right’’ has a whole new meaning after the 2013 team was buried by a massive pile of baseball wrongs.

‘‘I hope we get it back on track,’’ slugger Adam Dunn said Monday. ‘‘It was miserable. One of my most miserable seasons.’’

Almost to a man, that viewpoint is shared among those who were on the Sox last season.

‘‘It’s good that people feel that way, not forgetting how bad it felt to get killed every
day, finding every single day a way to lose a game as
opposed to finding a way to win,’’ Dunn said. ‘‘The coaches are emphasizing stuff that needs to be emphasized, which is boring and monotonous and stuff you’ve known since you were 4 years old, but it’s good. Apparently, people didn’t realize it. So that’s good.’’

When one veteran pitcher,
who is no longer with the team, made wisecracks about the monotony of pitchers taking fielding practice during camp last year, not much was thought of it. But when that same pitcher misplayed a bunt during a game in May, the coaching staff’s reaction was something like, ‘‘Well, there you have it.’’

Nobody is joking about fielding practice this year.

‘‘How I look at it is, you take a positive from every situation,’’ third-base coach Joe McEwing said. ‘‘And you learn from it. What we dealt with last year, it’s over. It
was a tough year for every single one of us. You have to look at the positive, see our mistakes, learn from it and move on.’’

Manager Robin Ventura said the message from the coaching staff is ‘‘a little more forceful this year.’’

‘‘They understand it just has to be better,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I think they understand there’s probably more work going into this year. Not just the physical stuff, but getting your mind right when we’re going out on defense and why it’s important.’’

And then there’s base-
running. The Sox were caught in enough rundowns and thrown out at third on enough grounders to the shortstop last season to produce a short comedy feature.

‘‘There’s a way to get thrown out, and there are dumb ways to get thrown out,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Eventually, you’re going to get thrown out. Hopefully those are aggressive ones and you’re not making silly outs. There were too many of the silly ones last year. You don’t want the silly ones.’’

Even if the Sox turn it around and play at a much higher level, captain Paul Konerko knows there will be some lows. It happens in a 162-game season.

‘‘Every team is going to have those struggles,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘We just have to make sure when that happens to us this year — it could be the first five games of the year, it could be the first month — that it has nothing to do with last year. We can’t have that, ‘Here we go, this is connected to what happened.’ The guys who were here last year have to recognize that. The new guys, it’s easier because they had nothing to do with it. They’re coming in fresh.

‘‘I know all you [media] guys — everybody — that will be the first knee-jerk thing that happens when it goes bad for a while, that it’s the same team. We have to make sure that we can’t go to that place we went to mentally last year.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @CST_soxvan



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