CHICAGO -- The White Sox have 12 games on the schedule before the All-Star break.
Nine of those 12 are at home, and six combined are against the Twins and Braves who are the League's two worst teams by record. It's a stretch that could help general manager Rick Hahn define how aggressive he will be deal-wise as the Trade Deadline approaches on Aug. 1.
But according to Chris Sale, the White Sox ace and soon-to-be five-time All-Star, it's the players in the clubhouse who have more of a hand in that decision.
"It's up to us more than anybody," Sale told MLB.com after his 13th victory Sunday. "If we keep doing what we've been doing, we'll be in a good position when that time rolls around. We all have the confidence in Rick to make those right moves."
This strange White Sox campaign has been dissected time and time again. They started red hot at 23-10, but dropped off to a dismal 10-26 run punctuated by an Indians sweep at Progressive Field from June 17-19. Those three straight losses have been followed by a 5-2 uptick with two consecutive series wins over the Wild Card-leading Red Sox and Blue Jays.
Entering Monday, which was an off-day for the White Sox, Robin Ventura's crew trailed by seven games to the American League Central-leading Indians. They also sat 2 1/2 out of the AL's second Wild Card spot and 3 1/2 games behind the top Wild Card.
So the current White Sox situation isn't all that different standings-wise from last season around the Trade Deadline, albeit now with a better team overall. Much like last year, the players believe in their postseason chances.
"We are one hot streak away from being in first place," said an optimistic Sale. "We have a couple of good weeks we put together, on top of a couple of [teams] tripping up a little bit, and we are right back in it. Any time you are up or down a game or two around .500, you are in it. It's just making those extra strides to get further on top of .500."
"You can't look ahead until you take care of what you have in your own house," White Sox catcher Alex Avila said. "We want to make sure that each game you play like it's the last game in the world and try to win each series and play as consistently as possible."
Hahn's challenge is to make a best guess at the team's ultimate potential for '16 and move accordingly. In-house help exists, with left-handed hitting veteran Justin Morneau expected back after the All-Star break and even a pitcher like hard-throwing Zack Burdi, the 26th pick overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, deemed close to Major League ready even with his Minor League career just beginning.
According to Sale, those moves are on Hahn. The White Sox have their own work to do.
"As much as there is to focus on in the game of baseball, you can't worry about what happens off the field," Sale said. "It's up to us to paint the picture of where we are going to be and what needs to happen."