By Adonis Dees
GLENDALE, Ariz. — “Rebuild” is a forbidden word in the White Sox clubhouse.
In December, the White Sox traded their biggest asset, pitcher Chris Sale, to the Boston Red Sox for four minor leaguers, including two players ranked among the top 16 prospects on MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 — infielder Yoan Moncada and pitcher Michael Kopech.
The next day, they traded outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington for three young pitchers, including top Nationals prospect Lucas Giolito, who is ranked No. 11 on the MLB Pipeline list.
From the outside, those moves equate to a “rebuild” for the White Sox.
But the White Sox players see it differently.
“I don’t really like that word — rebuild,” veteran third baseman Todd Frazier said. “I always talk about refueling the team.”
Chicago’s focus is on building chemistry inside the clubhouse and developing a winning mentality. Time is precious, especially during this year’s spring training.
“The question,” manager Rick Renteria said, “is how do we approach our daily routine to have these guys maximize their ability to learn and to execute on a daily basis to give ourselves a chance to win daily.”
White Sox management acquired more than a dozen new players for Renteria’s first season as manager.
“There’s no player on the face of this earth that comes to the ballpark saying, ‘It’s O.K. if we lose.’ None of them,” Renteria said. “So that’s why when you say ‘rebuild,’ many people might equate rebuilding with accepting losing. No, no one accepts losing. What we will not accept is not learning from the situations and circumstances that might surround us on a daily basis.”
Infielder Tim Anderson has taken on a leadership role, entering only his second year in the major leagues with the White Sox. He’s ready for a new season with new players in this adjustment period.
“They come out and they’re ready,” Anderson said. “We’re here every morning, and we’re just excited to get out there. So it’s going to be exciting just to see how we can put it together and how we’re gonna play this year.”
The White Sox went 78-84 last season and finished fourth in the tough AL Central. The division features the last two AL World Series teams, Kansas City and Cleveland, along with Detroit, which continues to employ people such as Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander.
This year’s spring training marks the start for the White Sox of escaping the shadows of the other Chicago team, the World Series champion Cubs.
Renteria managed the Cubs in 2014.
He now manages a team that is beginning to take a page out of the book of Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations: trade for prospects, sign players, hire a new manager, and be patient.
The process for the White Sox starts with young players. Kopech, 20, threw 100 mph in the first inning of his first start this spring.
“The main thing is trying to find a place to stay low, but still get my work in,” Kopech said. “I want to come in here and do the same thing everybody else is doing, eventually help the team win.”
Winning starts with chemistry, according to Renteria.
“A lot of the ability of a club to overcome anything, it has to do with how quickly they come together,” Renteria said.