CHICAGO -- When there are 12 days remaining until the non-waiver trade deadline it doesn’t take much to cause a stir.
So when Alex Rios failed to run hard on a ground ball and was yanked from Friday’s 6-4 defeat to the Atlanta Braves, speculation still centered around the possibility the Chicago White Sox outfielder had just been traded.
And when Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop prospect Alen Hanson was removed from his minor-league game at roughly the same time, it only fueled the rumors more. The Pirates have been rumored to be interested in acquiring Rios.
Afterward, manager Robin Ventura confirmed that Rios’ benching was directly related to the fact that he didn’t run hard on a ground ball to shortstop in the fifth inning. Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons ended up bobbling the ball, but the Braves still completed the double play with ease to end the inning and prevent the White Sox from scoring a run.
“We expect more than that,” Ventura said. “It was simple. Nothing more than that.”
Ventura has made it known that a lack of hustle will always be dealt with discipline.
“There are just expectations, and we’re not starting the second half off that way,” Ventura said. “It was simple. He’ll be back in, but tonight, that’s what happens when you don’t run.”
It hardly made a difference to Ventura that Rios is one of the White Sox’s better trade chips. Bringing focus to a player’s miscue wasn’t as big of a concern as addressing an issue. He didn’t care if there were 500 scouts in the stands watching a player in Rios, who could bring back young prospects in return.
“He knows, so it’s pretty simple,” Ventura said. “The other (trade rumor) stuff, I’m just worried about our team and how we go about it. And he knows, so …”
By the time the locker room was open to the media, Rios was gone and was not available for comment. After he was pulled he spent most of the remainder of the game in the White Sox’s clubhouse.
White Sox starter John Danks was still wearing his heart on his sleeve during a tough outing, clearly not considering the disappointing season a lost cause. Danks gave up all five of his runs on a pair of home runs, the second coming on a three-run shot from the Braves’ Brian McCann after a lengthy duel.
McCann had fouled off six of his last eight pitches he saw from Danks in an 11-pitch at-bat before sending his home run into the Braves’ bullpen in right field. Danks was clearly frustrated when he returned to the dugout after the half inning and stormed directly into the tunnel that leads to the clubhouse.
He said he said he didn’t even notice it when Rios had been pulled, but wasn't alarmed about the aggressive move by the manager.
“That’s what we are going to have to do,” Danks said. “We said all along we are going to play as hard as we can and try to win every game until the season is over. You know, that’s part of being here.”
Gordon Beckham, echoed a similar sentiment.
“He’s going to do what he thinks is right,” Beckham said about Ventura. “That’s his call. If that’s what he thinks, that’s what goes. There is no more that needs to be said than that.”