GLENDALE, Ariz - Position players haven't even officially reported to Sox camp yet and Camelback Ranch is already buzzing.
"If I said we weren't trying to win a World Series then I'd be lying," remarked White Sox catcher James McCann. "You go into every season with an expectation to win. This season is absolutely no different, but there is a little more in regards to the moves that were made in the offseason. It's win now. It's not just get to the playoffs. It's win a World Series."
"We want to play to put ourselves in the position to have a chance to get the dance," explained White Sox skipper Rick Renteria. "That's what it's about, ultimately. If people think I'm scared to say that, you're looking at the wrong guy."
"I think there are a lot of winners on this team," noted White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito. "A lot of guys that are not content with just being here and just playing. 'Oh. Okay. This season's over. Get 'em next year.' That's not the vibe over here. We're about winning. It just hasn't happened yet. I think spring training will be very important for us. Shifting the focus from what it's kind of been like the past few years - the development and getting goes going to now 'Okay. We're here and we're going to play to win every single day.'"
Giolito will likely miss the first week of Cactus League action along with Yasmani Grandal and Gio Gonzalez. Giolito has a sore chest after battling a flu that forced him to miss SoxFest. Grandal tweaked his calf working out a week or two ago and Gonzalez felt some discomfort in his shoulder during his throwing program.
Rick Hahn says they're minor issues and all three should be good to go by Opening Day with lofty goals in mind.
"I think it's important that the eye level be raised. Whether you are exactly in a position to win or not, I think the raising of the eye level comes first. People knew we were rebuilding the last few years. That doesn't change the individual player's desire to do well because it's their individual career. But at the same time, they knew this was a team that was going through this rebuild process. There was going to be young guys going through growing pains and other guys that might not be part of it when the time came to win. Putting the expectation in there that this is a team ready to win or we expect to contend or we're a playoff caliber club, raises the focus for everyone around there. It's part of the reason we love what Grandal and Keuchel and Encarnacion bring between the lines. But, as I've mentioned before, each of them have been the playoffs at least four out of the last five years. Couple of them each of the last five years. There's something about being part of a winning culture and the players reinforcing what the coaching staff is preaching that we think is of great benefit in terms of having those guys around, creating that winning culture, raising that eye level and letting that winning follow."