The current state of the Chicago White Sox is uncertain due to a major decline this past year, and the falloff has a lot to do with the team’s alleged “no rules” culture, according to ex-White Sox reliever Keynan Middleton.
“We came in with no rules,” Middleton said, per ESPN. “I don’t know how you police the culture if there are no rules or guidelines to follow. Everyone is doing their own thing. Like, how do you say anything about it because there are no rules?”
“You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game,” Middleton added. “You have guys missing meetings. You have guys missing PFPs (pitcher fielding practices), and there are no consequences for any of this stuff.”
In terms of when the “no rules” culture came to be, Middleton believes it was happening prior to his arrival.
“When I got to spring training, I heard a lot of the same stuff was happening last year,” Middleton said. “It’s happening again this year, so not sure how I could change it.
“They don’t tell you not to miss PFPs. They don’t tell you not to miss meetings, and if it happens, it’s just, ‘OK.'”
Middleton also pointed to players leaving for the World Baseball Classic during White Sox manager Pedro Grifol’s first spring training with the White Sox as another contributor to why he feels this way.
“If you’re trying to create culture, you need your big dogs,” Middleton said. “The guys who played in the WBC were our big dogs, and those are the guys I feel like can police the things that are happening.
Spring training offers a preview of what to expect in the upcoming season, but Middleton said that the team was struggling from the start.
“There was no jelling of the team. We’re supposed to find our identity in spring training, so we can roll out for the season. If you don’t find your identity, you’re scuffling from Day 1.”
The White Sox went from being 81-81 and contending for an American League Central title last year to 45-68 this season.
At the trade deadline, many of their veteran players — such as Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly, Reynaldo Lopez and Jake Burger — were dealt. Middleton was also traded minutes before the deadline after having joined the White Sox this season. He was sent to the New York Yankees for minor league right-hander Juan Carela.
“The second I found out I was traded, I shaved my face,” Middleton said. “I was ready to play by their (the Yankees’) rules because all I want to do is win games. … You know how to act [here]. You know not to be late, and you know there are consequences if you are late.”
Middleton had his debut with the Yankees on Sunday against Houston and looked “very comfortable,” according to Yankees manager Aaron Boone. Middleton returns to Chicago on Monday for a three-game series as a New York’s reliever.
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