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Sox aren’t focused on draft position; they want to win

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals

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FRIday

WHITE SOX
AT RED SOX

The facts: 6:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.

The starters: Hector Santiago (4-7, 3.25 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (6-9, 4.77).

THE REST OF THE SERIES

Saturday: 6:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. John Danks (4-10, 4.15) vs. Jake Peavy (10-5, 3.99).

Sunday: 12:35 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Andre Rienzo (1-0, 4.21) vs. Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.74).

Updated: August 29, 2013 9:06PM



BOSTON — Those who believe that losing games (think draft position) is the best thing that could happen to the White Sox could get their wish starting this weekend in Boston, where they open a 10-game road trip against three contenders from the American League East on Friday night.

Wins will be a challenge, even for the hottest team in baseball. Yes, the AL Central cellar-dwelling Sox’ 10-2 record over the last 12 games is unmatched. But only three of their remaining 30 games are against a team with a losing record, the Twins.

As the Sox build for next year, it would serve them well to own a top pick in the June draft, so the notion that nothing can be gained from winning in September has picked up steam. Sixteen wins over their last 23 has only jeopardized their chance to get better because it’s lowering their draft position.

Only the Astros and Marlins have more losses, but if the Sox (56-76) keep winning, they could drop below the Cubs, Giants, Padres, Brewers and Twins in the draft. While general manager Rick Hahn would cherish a plum pick — Gordon Beckham in 2004 is the only top-10 pick the Sox have had since 1991 — he and manager Robin Ventura are playing to win.

“Our hope and intent is to win as many games as possible the rest of the way,’’ Hahn said. “We’ve got a fair amount of young players contributing right now, and we believe there is a real benefit to them learning how to properly prepare and to compete and, ideally, be part of a winning environment. The draft position will be whatever we’ve earned at the end of the season and just isn’t the focus for anyone in uniform — nor should it be.’’

It’s difficult to gauge the value of winning now and its carry-over effect to next season. The Sox got sucked into a losing culture rife with mistakes, poor decisions, baserunning gaffes and a fair amount of poor at-bats.

There has been less of that this month. Better to be rid of it now than to let a culture of losing establish a stronghold, Ventura and his staff said.

“These games are always important, first and foremost because you’re a professional,’’ bench coach Mark Parent said. “Second of all, you have a chance to judge yourself against somebody else. You see where you stand as a player against a pitcher or a hitter. It’s about athletic pride and competitiveness.’’

Hahn recently said this Boston-New York-Baltimore trip will show him something about his young pitching staff. Ventura said it will be good for the young guys to “play in that kind of atmosphere.’’

If the Sox can hold on to some of the rescued lost pride Parent alluded to, it can’t hurt. There is a quiet confidence in the clubhouse that they’re on to something good.

“In a year or two, this is going to be a team to watch,’’ rookie third baseman Conor Gillaspie said. “We have so many guys that do many things well. The value of winning this last month is very important. For the guys in this clubhouse and the coaches on staff here and the people who are trying to build this team to win a championship down the road, the more we win and the better we play together this last month will really help us build for next year.”

NOTE: Sox rookie-ball catcher Nicholas Parent, Mark Parent’s son, received a 50-game suspension Thursday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Parent tested positive for metabolites of Stanozolol. The Sox drafted Parent, who was at Bristol, in the 36th round out of Cal State Monterey Bay in June.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: CST_soxvan



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