DeRosa: ‘have fun' message wrong for ‘underachieving' Sox


Mark DeRosa, the popular former Cub and budding manager, had a quick and candid response to the “having fun” message said to be the focus a players-only White Sox meeting Thursday morning when the news was reported as he was live on local radio.

“That wouldn’t be my message,” DeRosa told hosts Laurence Holmes and Dan Bernstein on 670-WSCR. “My message would be, ‘The talent in this room says we’ve underachieved the entire season. Our fans deserve better. We deserve better.

“‘We’re not out of this thing yet. We go out and win every damn ballgame until this thing’s over and see where the dust settles. We don’t truly believe in here that the Guardians and the Twins are better than us.’

“That would be my message instead of ‘fun.'"

DeRosa, an MLB Network studio host and recently tapped manager for Team USA’s star-studded World Baseball Classic team, had spent several minutes during the interview to that point talking about subjects ranging from his managerial aspirations (he mentioned past interviews with the Mets and Marlins), his definition of leadership and even a frank breakdown of what he considers a “mediocre” 2022 White Sox team.

One of the preseason favorites in the American League, the White Sox are two games under .500 and in third place, five games out of first in what might be the worst division in the majors, with 32 games left.

In analyzing the Sox, DeRose recalled an interview with closer Liam Hendriks during All-Star week for MLB Network in which Hendriks admitted to thinking players had “fallen in love with our press clippings” and believed the AL Central would be won with little more effort than showing up.

“I do believe they fell into that trap,” DeRosa said. “Now add injuries, add in that they’ve kicked the ball around — they’ve never gotten on a run. They’ve never been, ‘This is our lineup, this is who we are,’ for months at a time, or even weeks at a time. There’s a lot of blame to go around there, but there’s a lot of guys who have completely underperformed.

“There has been a few bright spots,” he added, citing Andrew Vaughn’s hitting. “But it just never came together, whether it be due to injury, due to them thinking they didn’t have to put in the fight and fire. I don’t know; I’m not in the dugout.”

Manager Tony La Russa’s departure this week for an undisclosed medical issue adds another complication, he said.

“It just feels like it’s just been one negative after another,” DeRosa said. “But the numbers support that they are a .500 team. When you look at the defensive metrics, look at the offense, look at the hitting with runners in scoring position, everything is mediocre across the board.”

As for the concept of team meetings in general, DeRosa criticized — even before he was told about the Sox’ meeting — the idea of the vague, play-hard or we-gotta-do-this-better meeting when those in the room know it’s about certain individual(s).

“I hate the team meeting where [in mocking voice] ‘We’ve got to play harder, bip-bip-bip,’ “ he said. “No. You know why we called this team meeting. Let’s get uncomfortable for 15 minutes and then when we go out for stretch and batting practice, everybody will feel great.”

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