White Sox staying grounded despite healthy lead

White Sox staying grounded despite healthy lead

CHICAGO -- Adam Eaton walked into the White Sox clubhouse wearing a pair of cowboy boots Sunday morning, explaining with a smile that he chose those because the team was leaving for Texas after the homestand finale against Minnesota.

In a roundabout way, that selection by Eaton also illustrates a singular team-wide focus on pretty much the day at hand that has helped make this group so successful through the first six weeks of the season.

The White Sox have the second-best record in all of baseball behind the Cubs after Sunday's 3-1 win over the Twins, and own the second-largest division lead, also behind the Cubs. The South Siders' five-game advantage in the American League Central stands as their largest since June 13, 2008.

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But even if it weren't Mother's Day, with a mere 32 games behind them, the White Sox still wouldn't be looking at the standings.

"As media and as fans, you guys watch that closely," said Eaton of the AL Central standings and current record. "When I was a fan, I watched it closely as well.

"It would drive us nuts, watching everybody, who wins and who loses, and how many games we are up. All we focus on is playing competitive baseball day in and day out and firing off the confidence of the team."

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Eaton talked about riding the "feel" in the clubhouse, which has been almost exclusively positive and optimistic this season. He echoed a sentiment expressed by others that the team expects to win each day it takes the field, regardless of the results the day before.

Starting Monday night in Texas, the White Sox play nine straight games outside the division. That schedule changes on May 20, when the White Sox face the defending World Series champion Royals for the first time, beginning a stretch of 14 out of 17 contests against the Royals (seven), Indians (four) and Tigers (three).

A little bit more could be known about the White Sox division hold by a scheduled off-day on June 6. But even at that point, the White Sox will solely be worried about the upcoming series against the Nationals.

Narrowing that focus has worked well to date, so they see no reason to change.

"Our schedule is so long that you just keep going," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You look week to week as far as who you've got, where there is a day off, where you can maybe give a pitcher an extra day here and there. The other stuff, it doesn't do you any good to sit there and look back and gloat or pat yourself on the back because the season is daunting."

"If you don't focus on the right now, this game can pass you up in a hurry," Eaton said. "If you are looking toward Kansas City whenever we play them, or whatever, you can't do that. You have to focus on the task at hand, and do well with the task at hand, the best you can do."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.