CHICAGO -- A few years ago, analyst Rany Jazayerli did a study for Baseball Prospectus, asking a simple question: How meaningful are the first few dozen games of a season, in terms of predictive value? In other words, at what point does "still early" become "too late?"
The question has a special relevance for the White Sox, who finished April with a 10-18 record and set a franchise record for losses in an opening month. There was a lot of complicated math in Jazayerli's study, but his conclusion was that, generally speaking, a team is what it is at about the 48-game mark. There are lots of exceptions to the rule, including last year's White Sox, but the rule of thumb is that once that threshold is reached, a team's current record has as much predictive value as any kind of preseason projection.
That being the case, the White Sox are entering an important three-week stretch. They aren't worried about complicated statistical analysis, they just know they need to win -- something they managed to do just three times in their last 17 games entering Sunday. The question: How do they turn the tide?
"A rah-rah speech isn't going to make it happen," said Paul Konerko. "Every guy has to know what he's doing up there. It's a different answer for every guy in here.
"You have to go home and kind of hold court with yourself, and ask if you're going about it in the right way. If you are and it's just not happening, that happens sometimes. That's baseball."
With a new month starting, the White Sox get a clean slate, but their goals for the month look a little different from what they would have expected, given their preseason status as a division favorite.
"Right now, I don't even look at the record," said Konerko. "If you do look at the record, it's pretty simple, you just want to get to .500. You have to try to look at the big picture.
"Let's say we play the month of May and we're .500, you wouldn't count out a .500 team. Hopefully, we are better than that. No one would count you out of any divisional race if you're a .500 team at the end of May."
Manager Ozzie Guillen returned to the dugout on Sunday, saying he's grown weary of questions about bad starts.
"I'm tired of saying it's too early," said Guillen. "I get tired of telling myself it's too early. It's never too early. If you go out there and start saying stuff and pushing these guys, talking to those guys, then you say, 'Well, the manager is panicking. The coaches are panicking. The owners are panicking.'
"There is no way we are going to play this bad any longer. There is no way. We've done everything on the field to be terrible. Now, it's our time for the ball to bounce our way."
White Sox face a tough May
CHICAGO -- If the White Sox are going to turn around their disappointing start, they aren't going to get any help from the schedule-makers. Chicago plays just 11 of its 29 games in May at U.S. Cellular Field.
By the time May is finished, the White Sox will have played a third of their 57 games against the four teams that made the postseason in the American League last season.
"There are a lot of good teams in the American League, but we're getting the cream of the crop early in the season, which is fine," said Paul Konerko. "We've got to keep grinding away."
While the tough slate makes for a long road back to .500 for the 10-18 White Sox, they do take some solace in the fact that things lighten up after Memorial Day.
"We've had a tough schedule," said Gordon Beckham. "This month and May might be our toughest months. If we can just weather the storm here and start playing better and winning some games, we'll be OK. The season bodes well for us, especially getting into June, July and August.
"The schedule is a little more favorable, and playing in this park, who knows what can happen? We're battling right now, we're struggling. But I think we are all looking in the same direction, and that is to start winning."
Ozzie: AL Central a five-team race
CHICAGO -- One month into the season, the American League Central standings still look like something from the Bizarro baseball universe, with projected basement dwellers Cleveland and Kansas City still sitting on top of the division. Favorites Minnesota, Detroit and the White Sox are on the bottom, all with losing records.
The Indians (18-8) entered Sunday tied with the Phillies for the best record in baseball. The Royals, after a tough stretch, beat the Twins twice in a row to climb back over .500. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says he saw it coming, if only people would listen.
"Check what I said Opening Day," said Guillen. "A lot of people, when I say something they don't like, they say that Ozzie doesn't know [stuff] about baseball. When we played Cleveland first and Kansas City second, look around, go to Google. You'll see what I said. I said the same thing about the  Tampa Bay [Rays] and [the 2006] Detroit [Tigers]."
Guillen doesn't expect the upstarts from Cleveland and Kansas City to fade, but he does think the other teams will rise.
"This is going to be a five-team race," said Guillen. "I don't expect Minnesota, the White Sox and Detroit to [stay] where they are. I expect Cleveland and Kansas City to stay where they are. I think they have confidence, and they are playing well. It's up to their pitching staffs. I think it's going to be a pretty good pennant race."
Ozzie returns from suspension
CHICAGO -- Ozzie Guillen returned to the White Sox dugout on Sunday after sitting out a two-game suspension for his conduct during a game at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday, which stemmed from his 26th career ejection and a few Twitter comments that landed him in hot water with Major League Baseball. Was it tough for him to miss those games, which Chicago lost to Baltimore by a combined score of 16-6?
"No, not the way they played," said Guillen. "It's tough to watch."
Guillen reiterated that he agreed with baseball's decision to suspend him and fine him a reported $20,000.
"It was good for baseball, myself and the integrity of the game," said Guillen. "If MLB made any good moves in the last 20 years, it was this one. They don't make many good moves, but they did it this time."
If Guillen seems almost too animated on the field, imagine what he's like in real life. He said he filled some of his free time moving into a new house he recently purchased in the Chicago area.
"I'm happy to be back on the field," said Guillen. "I was moving with my family, and that's a pain in the butt. I regret now moving to Chicago. Why? Because I work in Chicago. Why the hell do I want to move to Chicago, where people are going to ask me stupid questions about 'how bad you guys are.'"
Bradford Doolittle is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.