9/29/2013 7:15 P.M. ET
White Sox avoid turmoil despite trying season
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- The White Sox had more losses than they care to remember during this highly disappointing 2013 season.
They had injuries to key players and key players who underachieved. But throughout these unexpected extreme struggles, this team guided by even-keeled manager Robin Ventura managed to avoid true turmoil.
Turmoil, that is, in the classic sense of in-fighting within the clubhouse. According to second baseman Gordon Beckham, there was plenty of internal pain caused by the team playing just well enough to be bad.
"I'm pretty sure all of us have felt the feeling of turmoil through the year," said Beckham, speaking prior to the start of the season finale against the Royals Sunday. "Robin is very quiet and reserved in terms of that, but you can see it on his face that it's been hard on him.
"It's hard on everybody. That's a good word, 'turmoil.' It's not just what you do on the field, but it's how we lost. It was worse than losing a lot of games because of how we lost. It felt like we ripped our hearts out once or twice a week. Everybody, to our credit, has played hard and wanted to win. It just didn't happen."
Playing hard and wanting to win always is a nice sentiment, basically an essential ground floor element to success. But when a team fails as the White Sox did, with a 52-66 record in games decided by three runs or fewer and a 24-36 mark in one-run games, it's clear changes need to be made.
"There has to be changes," Beckham said. "Whether or not it's top to bottom, you have to look in the mirror and see what you have to do better. [General manager] Rick [Hahn] is really smart. He has a plan, I'm sure of it. It's not his fault or the coaches' fault. The guys on the field didn't get it done."
Beckham had to go back to his junior year at Georgia to find a season close to as bad as this one.
"Every time we were in a game, we'd lose. That doesn't compare to this," Beckham said. "We ripped our hearts out constantly in terms of being in a game or behind, coming back and losing. Or having a good pitching performance and not getting any hits. There isn't a good way to lose, but we couldn't lose in a good way where we played hard but just got beat. I try to be a positive person. We can turn it around, but we need the will to make it happen."
Keppinger figures to be 100 percent by November
CHICAGO -- Jeff Keppinger figures to be 100 percent by November in his recovery from season-ending shoulder surgery on Thursday.
"It's a good timetable to get healthy and get my arm back strong," Keppinger said following Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Royals.
There was a little fraying of the rotator cuff and labrum found during the surgery, but Keppinger said it was nothing more than regular wear and tear. He said that the shoulder problem never hurt him swinging, but did affect him throwing during a disappointing debut season with the White Sox.
"I had what you'd call 'chronic tendinitis,'" Keppinger said. "I would have a shot that would calm it down, but without giving it the rest, it would keep coming back. I had an inflamed bursa sac that constantly kept coming back, so they went in there to clean it out and take care of it so it would work smoothly and not be a problem next year."
Future uncertain, Lindstrom wants to return
CHICAGO -- Reliever Matt Lindstrom, who the White Sox hold a $4 million option or $500,000 buyout for in 2014, is in a holding pattern, like many other players on the current roster. But the veteran right-hander would like to return, reiterating a sentiment he has stated a couple of times previously.
"It would be nice to be a part of this team next year," Lindstrom said. "Showing the fans, showing ourselves, showing a lot of other people that we are a lot better than what we've shown on the field this year."
Lindstrom ranks second among American League relievers in double plays induced at 15 and third in appearances at 76 as of Sunday. He entered Sunday with a 3.12 ERA and would be a valuable veteran late-inning presence among the young relievers.
The White Sox have to decide if they want to pay $4 million for a reliever used in the seventh and eighth innings.
"I would like to be part of that process of putting a winning team on the field next year," Lindstrom said. "I'm not really sure what direction they are going to go.
"They have a lot of good young arms, and they might go with those guys. I'm prepared to deal with whatever comes my way, as I have in years past. But I see a lot of good young talent in this clubhouse. It will be fun to be a part of that."
Changes needed to make leap in standings next year
CHICAGO -- The Red Sox and Indians serve as the White Sox model for hope as work continues this offseason to reshape this team for 2014. After all, the Red Sox improved 28 games prior to Sunday's finale and the Indians had jumped up 23.
That move from worst to first won't just happen through the White Sox desire to be good or due to their talented young pitching staff at the core. General manager Rick Hahn and his staff have some moves to make.
"I'd like to point out that the Red Sox signed three or four prime players," said Gordon Beckham, pointing to additions such as Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes for the American League East champs. "We'd have to do that to be in the same league and I don't know if we will.
"I will say we have a good pitching staff and some good players we've added. [Avisail] Garcia is a stud. Some people did some things we can build off of. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it's faint right now. Any team can go from worst to first, but more things have to happen than just hoping to show up next year to win. It can't be as bad as this year, but it can if you don't do your work."
Manager Robin Ventura agreed with Beckham's assessment, knowing that the offseason adjustments partially will dictate the White Sox 2014 competitiveness.
"At this point, you hope that's going to happen, but we're different than we left Spring Training with this year," Ventura said. "We've added some younger players here at the end that we didn't have leaving Spring Training this year.
"So, again, we're going to see how that goes and try and make some adjustments here and there and hopefully get some players in here that can turn this around. That's the idea, and the ones that are here, make better."
Third to first
• MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported Saturday that Cuban prospect Jose Abreu has been declared a free agent and is cleared to sign with a Major League team. White Sox left fielder Dayan Viciedo would like to see Abreu on Chicago's South Side.
"He's a tremendous hitter, he's got power," said Viciedo through translator and White Sox coach Lino Diaz. "I would definitely like to have him around. This would be a good field for him to hit on."
Viciedo, a native of Cuba, said he doesn't know Abreu well enough to help with the recruiting process if the White Sox were interested.
• White Sox groundskeeper Roger Bossard has been retained to design and build the playing field for BB&T Ballpark, which will open in 2014 as the new home for Triple-A Charlotte. He begins work in mid-October for a ballpark built under the same specifications as U.S. Cellular Field.
Bossard is in his 47th season with the White Sox and has designed and built the playing fields for 12 of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums.
• Ventura joked that there isn't much known for certain about next year's White Sox, aside from Chris Sale pitching on Opening Day.
"There's a fair chance of anything," Ventura said. "Chris starting Opening Day is about the most solid thing you're going to get right now."
• Addison Reed became the fourth pitcher in White Sox history to record 40-plus saves in a season. He joins Bobby Jenks (2006, '07), Bobby Thigpen (1990) and Keith Foulke ('01).