Joe Kelly debunks advised mitigated effort last season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
During the early parts of last season, some White Sox players were told to ‘slow down’ on routine outs to first base to mitigate the risk of injury, according to then-manager Tony La Russa.
“We literally have five of the nine guys who are playing under trainer instructions that if they make a routine out, they slow it down,” manager Tony La Russa said to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The White Sox saw a slew of players go down for parts of the season because of injury – similar to their situation in 2021, yet arguably worse. Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez are names who played under 100 games last season.
The advice to decrease and mitigate their effort during certain situations on the field was given to an anonymous bunch of players to avoid injury, according to La Russa.
However, this was never the case. Any lack of effort on the field was of each player’s volition, according to White Sox reliever Joe Kelly.
“Guys were taking it easy, being cautious, and that was not coming from the training staff or strength coach,” Kelly said to USA Today. “It was us as players not going pedal to the metal. We were running out of time, and then we kind of sped as fast as we could, but then obviously we couldn’t catch up.”
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At times, the White Sox’ effort on the field was criticized by pundits and outsiders.
The differences between the club’s statistical finishes in 2022 and 2021 were stark. For a power-hitting team, they struggled. They finished 18th in slugging percentage, despite reaching the top ten in 2021. They hit 41 fewer home runs, drove in 103 fewer RBIs and committed 11 more errors on the field. All signs of a team taking a step back.
Hopefully, this time around, things will be different.
The White Sox brought in Pedro Grifol and a venerable staff, including recent Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoya. They also signed free agents Andrew Benintendi and Mike Clevinger to bolster the roster.
The most uplifting piece is the team’s relative health. Seemingly, everyone except for Garrett Crochet (rehabbing from Tommy John surgery) is healthy heading into the season.
Can the White Sox revert to playoff-caliber form?
“There’s such a big difference,” Kelly said. “This is the most intense spring I’ve been part of in five seasons. It’s been like, ‘Go, go, go.’ I didn’t see that many guys run that hard in spring training last year, and now you see them working on their baserunning, sprinting, all of these crazy drills.”
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