Kenny Williams, White Sox taking heat
NEW YORK -- After surviving a 2½-hour delay listening to Chicago White Sox fans in the terminal at O'Hare Airport, facing the national media Monday in the back of the press box at Yankee Stadium was a breeze for general manager Kenny Williams.
Williams didn't mince words, saying the team has been incredibly unspectacular while at the same time still possessing the talent to turn things around. Right now, though, there is nothing to feel good about.
"Well I have no choice but to look at them as 8-14 right now because that's where we are and we have earned every bit of it," Williams said before the White Sox beat the Yanks 2-0. "We have not hit, we have not pitched consistently and we have not caught the ball. We have played as poorly as we can possibly play."
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Williams' trip to New York was already in the works before the White Sox set out on their voyage through unforgiving seas. The White Sox have lost six of the first seven games before heading into Monday's game against the Yankees.
Williams figured the roster he built would keep him stress-free at least until July, and has even deflected questions from the media in the early going. But this road trip changed all that and Williams made himself available to discuss the problem.
He said that despite his late arrival to the ballpark he was able to at least see the team in the clubhouse, but didn't necessarily have words of wisdom to impart.
"All I can do is come to the clubhouse and give some hugs, offer some hugs, some support in that way," he said. "But the good things is, we have the ability, we have the talent. We've been down the road when we haven't played well and you have to look in the mirror and you know you don't have the talent. This is a quite different scenario where we have guys who have proven themselves in the major leagues and on championship clubs."
The White Sox are on a cover-your-eyes run of baseball where they have had issues in the bullpen, on defense and at the plate.
They entered play Monday eighth in the American League with a team batting average of .244, but are hitting just .179 on the road trip. Their 4.42 team ERA is fourth from the bottom in the league and their .980 fielding percentage was tied for third worst.
With rumors circulating that coaches could be fired or even that manager Ozzie Guillen was under the microscope, Williams was asked his impression of the job the staff was doing.
"The coaching staff is not throwing the baseball, not hitting the baseball, they're doing what they've always done," Williams said. "The first 10 games of the season people talked about how well our offense was performing. We were hitting off the charts. When it turned around, we have to stand up and take the heat.
"[Hitting coach Greg Walker] is used to taking the heat and he's been consistent over the years the way teams have rebounded offensively. [Pitching coach Don Cooper] has taken his share. In professional sports, fingers will be pointed your way. None of them have gotten any dumber the last couple weeks. They're [the] same guys and I have a lot of confidence all of them."
Williams' problem is that he has a dissatisfied fan base, as his airport delay showed. The White Sox need to average about 33,000 fans per game to pay for their $125 million-plus payroll and the road trip isn't going to convince anybody to come to the ballpark when the team returns home Friday.
"Chicago White Sox fans, you have to earn their patronage, and we haven't earned it, so I don't expect people to show up in droves until we earn it," Williams said. "This is the third week in April, a lot of games left and we will earn their respect and their patronage. Until then I wouldn't expect it."
"I should have called [Boston and Tampa], they would have advised me not to walk in an airport," Williams said. "The [fans] tell me who I need to play, who I need to get, who I need to bench and blah, blah, blah. I gave them Ozzie's number and said call him."
Doug Padilla covers the White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.