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Start-and-stop White Sox put front office in holding pattern

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Rick Hahn and Kenny Williams say the same thing in different ways

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With the White Sox opening a new series and a new month on Tuesday, Rick Hahn was on hand in Arlington to address the beat reporters.

At least until the subsequent beatdown by the Rangers, the Sox had played well enough during a road trip to allow Hahn to interpret recent events more positively -- for instance, a 9-9 stretch over 18 games in 17 days, featuring an improved performance on the road:

"This could have been a meat grinder of a trip," Hahn said. "Certainly we're not throwing any parades that we've gone 9-9 in that stretch, but that's pretty good work for what that schedule laid out ahead of us.

"We want to start seeing more of the consistency we've seen in the upside of our performance. There certainly is plenty of time to put ourselves back in the position to win this thing, which was our goal from the start."

But while the Sox are trying to keep their defensive and baserunning miscues to a minimum -- and did well enough during a series victory in Houston -- the lack of power hitting might be the most problematic aspect of this team. They were never going to be lockdown defenders or tremendously valuable on the basepaths, but they were supposed to be able to thump the ball a little. That hasn't happened, and it makes the unexpected contributions necessary by defeault. It's neat that Adam Eaton is up to three homers after hitting a two-run dinger on Tuesday. It's not so neat that he has more homers than Melky Cabrera, Tyler Flowers, Alexei Ramirez and Conor Gillaspie.

So I'm thinking that Hahn is soft-pedaling this a little. Perhaps it's because Jose Abreu is battling a nagging finger injury, and they don't want him rushing back and reaggravating it in an attempt to be the hero. Perhaps it's because the Sox pretty much have to bide their time for a month anyway, before meaningful roster changes can be made.

Or perhaps it's because the AL Central isn't playing sparkling ball as a whole right now. Tweets from our AL Central friends on Tuesday night:

Star-divide

Or perhaps it's because Hahn is the good cop, and Kenny Williams is the bad cop. Daryl Van Schouwen talked to the White Sox' executive vice president, and his words were stronger because that's his thing:

"To say we haven’t clicked on all cylinders would be an understatement,’’ the White Sox executive vice president said Monday. "It’s been sloppy. At times it’s been embarrassing.’’

and:

"If anyone in that uniform or anybody around here says [the Sox can't climb over teams in front of them] let me know their names. They don’t belong here.’’

Yet Williams also issued a strong defense of Robin Ventura, mostly along the lines of what we usually hear in response to the meatball complaints (he's not fiery enough, etc.). One unique aspect to this story -- Van Schouwen asked what that whole weird hands-on managing/new manifesto thing was all about.

It was reported that Ventura was asked to be more hands-on with certain players but Williams said "there was a conversation that could be turned around to say that was the directive but it was more the line of question to see just how accountable we were making everyone. Each player, each coach. It’s self-evaluation.

"We asked Robin and the coaches, ‘What can we do in management in terms of more information, analytics in regards to positioning, lineups, personnel. What can we do to make us better? To single out one aspect misses the whole of the conversation.’’

That's a more reasonable and healthy spin on it, although when looking back at Bruce Levine's original report, it's still something that the Sox' play was so uninspiring and unsettling that it required three days of meetings. I don't have the access to know which account is closer to the unvarnished truth, but I can say this season has a strange tension to it that could result in all sorts of conflicting reports before it's over.