White Sox embrace expectations as they approach 2021 Opening Day

White Sox

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – MARCH 22: The Chicago White Sox celebrate a 7-2 win against the San Francisco Giants during the MLB spring training game at Camelback Ranch on March 22, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

ANAHEIM – Expectations aren’t really something new for this group, since much was expected of them even in the 60-game campaign of 2020.

But to say they’ve gone up a bit from seven months ago would be accurate as the White Sox approach the first of 162 games this season on Thursday. Making the playoffs won’t be good enough for this group that has been retooling their organization since 2016 to get ready for this type of moment.

The goal is winning a World Series championship, which has been vocalized by a number of players on the roster from the start of training camp up till Thursday’s opener against the Angels in Anaheim. Everyone from starting pitcher Lucas Giolito to shortstop Tim Anderson hasn’t been afraid to express their confidence in the group in 2021.

“It’s knowing how good we are, which I believe we do,” said Giolito ahead of his Opening Day during his news conference on Wednesday. “It’s knowing the amount of work it takes on a daily basis, the amount of high-intensity focus on a daily basis, to be able to deliver our best product day in and day out and prove to ourselves and everyone else that we are as good as we say we are. “

Yet Rick Hahn was clear to say in his preseason news conference on Tuesday he would like to see his group maintain that confidence with a healthy amount of motivation at the same time.

“I view us as hunters,” said Hahn when asked about Anderson telling WSCR-AM radio in February that the team was the best in the American League. “I don’t think we’re the favorites by any stretch. I do like the confidence that you referenced in terms of Tim’s comments. I think those are a very positive sentiment to have in that clubhouse and well deserved, and it’s going to serve us well over the course of the summer.

“But, that said, we still have to prove it. We absolutely have to prove it. The expectations being high are great, but all that stuff right now is on paper, and we start on Thursday. Let’s stay healthy, let’s take care of April 1st and then move on and hopefully take care of our division over the course of the summer.”

Tony La Russa will be the one balancing those thoughts in the clubhouse in 2021 as he returns to the dugout for the first time in ten years.

“I think it’s important not to walk in thinking that we’re special and the other side is conceding anything. I think the opposite is going to be true. We’ve gotten a lot of headlines. A lot our well deserved because we do have talent and had success last year, and the other side can use that to their advantage; ‘We’ll, hey, they think they’re so good, we’re gonna show you,'” said La Russa. “The other side always take care of what they think, but we have to take care of what we think.

“We’re going into the series against the Angels knowing how good they can be and they’re going to play us very tough and we’re gonna give it our best.”

If they do, they may live up to those high expectations once October arrives.

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