The White Sox hear the noise. From fans, media and even loved ones on occasion.
Much of it comes from angry voices because the Sox (51-51), who fell back to the .500 mark after a 2-1 loss to the Royals Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field, have been mediocre this season. Mediocre means bad when expectations are high.
“There are expectations here,” said outfielder AJ Pollock, who is nearing his 10-year service time milestone, spanning a career that includes a World Series championship with the Dodgers in 2020. “There’s going to be a lot of outside stuff that, if you don’t perform, you’re going to hear it and you’re going to get criticism.”
The Sox need to perform better and they know it.
“We haven’t played well all year except for a couple [brief] stretches,” Pollock said.
Pollock said it’s more important now than at any point in the season that the clubhouse remains tight.
“If this locker room can stick together through wins and losses, we’ll be good,” he said. “It’s tough, it seems like the expectations for this team and organization are fairly new. That’s a whole new thing to tackle. Say what you want, we’re at .500 and a couple games back [of first place in the AL Central], we’re right there. See what this team is made of down the stretch.”
On the day before the trade deadline, fans hoping to see Shohei Ohtani obtained in a fantasyland deal (he’s not getting traded) or Jose Quintana (the Cardinals got him) acquired in more doable territory settled for veteran lefty reliever Jake Diekman from the Red Sox .
Diekman was a teammate of Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who on Sunday said he liked how the front office talked to players about potential acquisitions.
“They ask guys: ‘How is this guy in the clubhouse? How is this guy as a person?’ ” Henriks said. “It could be the perfect fit but the guy can be [a jerk] and change the morale of this clubhouse.
“You never want to bring in those trouble guys, especially when we have a tight unit in here. We want to make sure anyone who comes fits that mold and gets along with everybody.”
“You can have friction all over the place [from outside]but the players have to stick together and ignore some of the noise,” Pollock said.
The 17,500 in attendance had little to yell about during the first six innings. Lefty Daniel Lynch (5 2⁄3 scoreless innings), reactivated from the injured list hours before the first pitch, lowered his ERA to 4.70. The Sox’ first run came in the seventh on pinch hitter Gavin Sheets’ sacrifice fly, cutting the Royals lead to 2-1.
Michael Kopech pitched seven innings of two-run ball, allowing homers to Salvador Perez and Whit Merrifield, but left trailing 2-0. Kopech (3.12 ERA) struck out three and walked one while allowing six hits. He threw a career high 100 pitches.
The Sox had won 10 of their last 15 and 12 of 19 but were trying for a third win in a row at home for the first time this season. They were 23-28 at home before Monday.
Through it all, they’ve stuck together.
“We have been together with all that has happened,” Eloy Jimenez said.
“This group likes to hang out together and that’s huge,” Pollock said. “Some teams, everyone goes their separate ways on the road but this team doesn’t do that. This team hangs out together, so that’s big. This team will get through some stuff because guys like hanging out with each other and that’s a big deal.
“We’ve had some injuries and frustrating points that sometimes doesn’t look so good but we’re right there. We’ll keep pushing forward.”