The Chicago White Sox have been rolling as of late under interim manager Miguel Cairo and it seems that his ability to communicate to the team has been at the root of this resurgence.
Since taking over for Tony La Russa who has been out since late August due to heart-related issues, Cairo has guided the White Sox to a 10-4 record, including Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over the Colorado Rockies.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, several players have said Cairo’s message about coming to play has resonated in a way that has the team playing how many thought they would throughout the season.
Even though time is running out on the year, the team is still in contention for the American League Central division title.
The Chicago White Sox are clearly better off with Miguel Cairo as the manager.
Closer Liam Hendriks said Cairo laid it out in simple but direct terms how guys need to approach the task at hand.
"“He told us pretty much, ‘If you don’t want to be here, then get the (expletive) out.’ It was eye-opening to some guys who have never really been told no,” Hendriks said.“The message really hasn’t changed at all for us this year, but it was a different viewpoint, a different verbiage, a different way of delivering,” he added."
It seems how things are being communicated is what makes the difference between Cairo and La Russa so drastic. The message might be the same but the relaying of it is as different as night and day.
"“Let’s put it this way, you can tell your kids something and they don’t listen,” said second baseman Josh Harrison. “Someone else tells them the same thing, and they get the message. It’s put up or shut up time.”"
It’s those types of comments that are an indictment of La Russa. Certainly, he wasn’t out on the field giving up runs, making errors, or committing base running mistakes. But he is the manager and his seemingly lackadaisical approach to each game apparently rubbed off on the team.
"Outfielder Gavin Sheets said, “We certainly waited a long time for this. We obviously haven’t been excited the way we’ve played all year.”"
But, at least for this recent stretch, the team has turned the corner and been playing its best ball so far. In addition to Cairo, the addition of shortstop Elvis Andrus has provided the White Sox with a huge boost on both the offensive and defensive ends while Tim Anderson recovers from finger surgery.
With the team playing as well as it has of late, the question of whether or not La Russa should re-take the reins of the club when he returns is a legitimate one. It is also something that might be out of his control if the doctors don’t give him the ok to get back in the dugout.
Still, the White Sox are riding high right now and need to keep things going if they hope to overcome the Cleveland Guardians for the division crown. If they are to do it, it might be best to stay with what’s working and not change a thing.