Sox talk down series with first-place Tribe

Chris Perez had a heated exchanges with White Sox slugger Alex Rios earlier this month. AP Photo/Tony Dejak

CHICAGO – As they prepare for a series against the first-place Cleveland Indians, the Chicago White Sox sit just 3 ½ games back in the standings. But the South Siders aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

In fact, if you talk to the team’s manager or its hottest hitter both say they are taking it one day at a time.

“That has kind of been preached to us since the start,” said Paul Konerko, who leads the AL in hitting going into Friday’s contest. “We have had a lot of games so far this season that have been tough losses, and we have bounced back the next day. Guys are buying in … and it’s a good attitude to have.”

The underselling of this important series may have worked for the White Sox so far, but at some point, this ball club will have to develop some swagger in order to play with the big boys. Pros like Konerko and manger Robin Ventura do not get excited about a team that is just one game over five hundred in a mediocre division.

”It’s nice when you get the win, but at this point we need to keep grinding and keep working trying to be the best team we can be ,” Konerko said.

The White Sox have won five of nine games against the Tribe this season. After this weekend’s series, they do not play Cleveland again until Oct. 1-3.

“It’s an important series because it’s a team in first place, but there is still a long way to go,” Ventura said. “There is still a long way to go, and it (won’t ) judge the season by what happens this weekend.”

All of that aside, there is already some fuel to this rivalry. Words were exchanged between Cleveland closer Chris Perez and Sox outfielder Alex Rios earlier this month. Perez mouth off to Rios as he made the last out of the game on May 3 and Rios got his revenge with an extra inning home run that beat Perez and the Indians in 10 innings on May 8.

In spite of what Konerko and Ventura say, expect anything but a “normal” series this weekend.