White Sox not panicking yet
CHICAGO -- It's April.
That's the message the struggling Chicago White Sox would like to remind their fans.
The Sox have lost 12 of their last 15 games and posted a 3-8 record on their recent road trip before returning to the South Side for Friday's contest against the Baltimore Orioles.
They're not hitting particularly well. Their pitching has been inconsistent. They're not running the bases as well as they could be. And their defense has been spotty. Still, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams isn't overly concerned.
"We didn't build a team to be in first place in April, and if we're not in first place in April we're going to cash it in," Williams said. "We built a team that we thought would stand a 162-game schedule, and we think ultimately that we're still going to come out on top.
"A stretch like this was going to come. We just hope another one doesn't come. It's come in the beginning of the season in the midst of a lot of road games against a lot of tough pitching, but we'll get it straightened out."
After batting .307 in their first nine games, the White Sox are hitting .204 in their past 17.
"We've had a tough schedule," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "I think this month and May might be our toughest months, so if we can just weather the storm here, start playing a little better and start winning some games, we'll be OK. The season bodes well for us, especially getting into June, July and August, our schedule is a little more favorable."
Still, Beckham is confident the White Sox can recapture some of its early success.
"Whatever goes wrong that day, we need to pick each other up," Beckham said. "That's the issue we're having. We're either not hitting and we're not pitching, or we're hitting and not pitching, or we're pitching and we're not hitting ... We're going to turn the corner here, I know it."
Williams said he had a conversation with team owner Jerry Reinsdorf about the team's urgency to win -- and keep fans coming to the park. Williams said Reinsdorf reminded him that they have a good team.
"Yeah, we have a good team," Williams said. "Problem is, if we don't show Chicago White Sox fans that we're a team that's earned their patronage, they're not going to show up. And if we're hurt at the gate in April and May, in June we're not going to be able to make that up."
Team captain Paul Konerko echoed Beckham's optimism.
"The first eight or 10 games, we were a pretty solid team," Konerko said. "That's not too long ago, so if we can just realize that we have played well, it's here, it's in the room."
Konerko said the team's first 26 games don't have to be indicative of how they will play the rest of the season.
"If there's a player out there hitting .200, it does not mean he's going to have a bad year," Konerko said. "If there's a guy out there hitting .350 right now, it doesn't mean he's going to have a good year. That holds true with where teams are at in the standings."
As far as the mood in the clubhouse, manager Ozzie Guillen said his team isn't feeling the pressure to start winning. The problem, he said, is simple.
"We're fighting. We're just not hitting."
He seemed to be the only one ready to admit he was worried about his team's performance so far.
"It get's to the point you get tired [of hearing] it's early," Guillen said. "[Expletive] it's too early. Yeah, there's a lot of games to go. But when you're not playing the way you think you should be playing every day -- hitting, pitching, defense -- every day you have to worry."
Even if comes time to push the proverbial panic button, Williams said he'll be the last one to give up. He told the story of the Sox's infamous 1997 midseason trade -- dubbed the White Flag Trade -- that sent the team's top pitching talent packing while only 3.5 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians.
"We were all in the meeting and everyone had agreed to give up the ship," Williams said, "and I sat in the corner very quiet. I was asked, 'How do you feel about it?' And I said, 'Hell no. Let's add.' "
That trade happened on the last day of July that season. As Williams reminded reporters, "We're talking April. It's April."
But April turns to May on Sunday.
Kevin Allen is a special contributor to ESPNChicago.com.