Veteran Andrus believes White Sox manager Grifol ‘will learn’ from 2023


Elvis Andrus has played for four first-year managers during his 15-year career, including three in the last five years.

Jeff Bannister was manager of the year with the AL West champion Rangers in 2015, Chris Woodward’s 2019 Rangers team went 78-84 in 2019, Mark Kotsay guided an undermanned Athletics team to a 60-102 season in 2022 (Andrus was traded to the Sox mid-season) and now there’s Pedro Grifol, who is trying to avoid a disastrous 100-loss campaign.

“They all have different personalities,” Andrus told the Sun-Times Sunday. “And it’s hard. If you start winning, then everything is easier. But when you’re not, personnel are going to change, things you might think you’re going to do don’t happen, and you have to adapt. So it’s a tough one.”

The Sox started 7-21 with a team Grifol, and management, believed would win. Now, the non-believers far outweigh the believers in Grifol.

Among the latter is new general manager Chris Getz, promoted after the firings of Rick Hahn and Ken Williams. Getz said Grifol will return for a second year in 2024, and Andrus, a veteran presence with a keen understanding and boyish love for the game still evident after all these years, doesn’t disagree with the reasoning.

“It’s always a 50-50, man [with new managers],” Andrus said. “Even if you coached for years, being a manager is a different animal. I compare it with a utility guy becoming an everyday guy. You think it’s the same but no, it’s a different animal. I think he’ll learn. After this year he’ll have a better, more clean idea of how to manage. Overall, he has done a good job. He communicates, he’s passionate, he knows what he wants.”

Grifol wants a team that defends better, puts pressure on opponents with speed and execution and plays hard to the final out.

“For him to learn after this year, and know how to make [his vision] happen … it’s tough to say something and make it happen,” Andrus said. “There are many personalities, players and coaches, but it’s been a big learning year for him and hopefully he can make that jump.”

Grifol told the Sun-Times he has learned from “the storm” that is 2023, and the criticism accompanying it.

“ I don’t lie to myself. There are things I could be better at, and I have them all written down,” he said. “And I’m going to be better.”

Those inside the clubhouse say Grifol is respected by his players, which, if true, is vital. There’s also an expectation that team rules will be clamped down on in light of Keynan Middleton’s “no rules” comment after he was traded.

“Every team is going to have problems,” Andrus said. “I didn’t like comments from ex-teammates, because of course there are leaders on this team. But when you don’t win anybody can look for anything, lack of leadership. But I can tell you there are leaders on this team, it just wasn’t our year. I don’t think it had anything to do with leadership. It was more knowing the team and finding a way to win games.”

Andrus, 35, who will be a free agent, hopes to keep playing. Where that would be remains to be seen. He played shortstop and contributed a two-run single in a 3-2 win in Boston Sunday helping the Sox win their first series since Aug. 7-9 and he hiked his average to .346 and OPS to .894 over 35 games since Aug. 4.

“Next year they have to unite the team in spring training, have that baseball mindset where you know the DNA of your team and everybody knows their role,” Andrus said. “That’s going to be the biggest thing.

“Everybody has talent, it’s knowing your role, how you can contribute every single day.”

It’s on Grifol to blend together what he’s given to work with.

“I try to understand his position rather than critique,” Andrus said. “Because I know it’s not easy.”


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