At midpoint, White Sox have room to grow

Ventura looking for more consistency out of team going forward

At midpoint, White Sox have room to grow

CHICAGO -- A Twitter poll Sunday asked White Sox fans the following question concerning the team's 41-40 record at the halfway point of the 2016 season: What is your best regular season guess for the White Sox finish?

The choices were winning the American League Central, capturing the first Wild Card, capturing the second Wild Card or finishing between 83-85 wins with no playoff berth. That final option garnered 52 percent of the near 750 votes, with some fans not certain if this version of the White Sox would reach .500.

Manager Robin Ventura did not cast a vote in that particular poll. But Ventura believes this squad, sitting two over .500 in opening this six-game homestand to end the first half, has the ability to get better. It's especially true within the younger add-ons such as Chris Beck and Michael Ynoa in the relief crew.

"We have room to grow. Getting some guys back in healthy. The bullpen, we're a little different," Ventura said. "We had a strong point at the beginning of the season because we had a veteran presence down there.

"Once Jake [Petricka] went down, it changed the dynamic. We have some guys who are younger who need to step up and fill a role. This might be new to them. Beck has been a starter in the Minor Leagues and he has to figure out a way to make that work coming out of the bullpen."

Both the White Sox and Yankees stood in the mix of eight teams within four games of an AL Wild Card spot. The White Sox started out hot this season, fell off precipitously in the middle, but rebounded to a 10-4 record with four straight series wins after Monday's 8-2 win over the Yankees.

They've hit this midway mark without top offensive production from Jose Abreu and Todd Frazier. They've hit the midway mark with two of the top AL starters, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, at the top of their rotation. And they figure to add Justin Morneau and Austin Jackson sometime after the All-Star break.

It's reason for optimism on Ventura's part, even if the fans aren't quite convinced.

"Get healthy first," Ventura said. "If we can get some guys back, Justin is going out on his rehab assignment right now and there is some stuff that could change in the way we look. TA [Tim Anderson] coming on, there is some different dynamics to what we are compared to when we left Spring Training."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for 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.