CHICAGO — White Sox management on Monday dismissed claims by former substitute Keynan Middleton that the downtrodden team has a culture with no “rules” allowing a rookie substitute to regularly fall asleep during games and other players, meetings and miss training.
Middleton, who was traded to the New York Yankees for minor league pitching contender Juan Carela just before the close on Aug. 1, made the statements in an ESPN report published Sunday.
Ahead of Monday’s 5-1 win over the Yankees in Chicago, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and first-year manager Pedro Grifol said Middleton’s statements were untrue. But both admitted their disappointing team faced some internal issues around building a culture of success.
“I’ve been talking about culture here since day one and brought it up again about three or four weeks ago,” Grifol said. “I feel like we’re not even close to where we need to be, but we’re on the right track.”
The White Sox, who are expected to compete, are fourth in the American League Central at 46-68.
Hahn noted that no helper slept in the bullpen, adding that the White Sox has one positional player with a serious insomnia who is medically instructed to take a nap in the clubhouse.
“I was surprised to see the report this morning,” Hahn said. “At no point during the year during this game has a helper slept in the bullpen. That’s just wrong.”
Hahn and Grifol said there have been times when players have broken team rules but have faced disciplinary action that has not been disclosed under baseball’s typical “what happens in the clubhouse, stays in the clubhouse” policy.
Hahn said Middleton is one of those players.
“Honestly it’s a bit ironic that Keynan is the one saying this because my last face-to-face conversation with him was a week ago at the clubhouse, where he came to apologize for his unprofessional behavior Pedro him had challenged further,” said Hahn. “At the time I thought it was an isolated case.”
Hahn said Middleton told him before moving to New York that he might want to return to Chicago as a free agent after the season.
When Middleton learned of the responses from White Sox management ahead of Monday’s game, he stood by his original statements.
“I said what I said and I stand by it,” said the 29-year-old right-hander. “I honestly don’t want to comment anymore.
“Right now my sole focus is being a Yankee, my future is being a Yankee, I’m going to make the playoffs and all of that stuff.”