Defense remains biggest worry

CHICAGO – As shaky as the Chicago White Sox’s offense has been, manager Robin Ventura’s chief concerns still lie elsewhere.

“I still like the defensive stuff,” Ventura said when asked about the lack of run production. “We want to score runs and do all that, but hitting kind of comes and goes, there's lapses of it, there's good stretches of it too. For me, the constant always has to be what we do on the mound and with the defensive stuff. That's just stuff that you just have to do.

The White Sox’s 35 errors were the most in the American League heading into play Thursday, although five National League teams have more. Adding to the shock of their defensive numbers is the fact that the White Sox’s 1,838 total chances are the least in baseball and more than 200 less than the Colorado Rockies, who lead that category.

Among regular American League shortstops, Alexei Ramirez's .967 fielding percentage is second worst in the American League, while only two regular AL catchers have more errors than Tyler Flowers' three.

After mandatory work on defense when the team was in Minnesota on the last road trip, the White Sox had been much improved with the gloves. But struggles have surfaced again.

Left fielder Dayan Viciedo had the latest miscue Wednesday when he not only seemed to lose track of his surroundings near the Wrigley Field wall, but also seemed to misjudge the wind as the ball bounced off his outstretched glove. The error led to a first-inning run for the Cubs.

As far as the offense goes, the White Sox are much improved collectively over the last 16 games with a .267 batting average, a .323 on-base percentage and a .297 slugging percentage. Compared to the first 34 games when they were .227/.278/.370 it’s better but not yet consistent.

In the last two games against the Cubs, the White Sox have scored a combined three runs and have been saddled with two defeats.

“Hitting-wise, hitting is not always easy,” Ventura said. “There’s ups and downs of it, and sometimes it's not as consistent as you want. For me, the defense and how you do it, there shouldn't be lapses in it.”