The Pedro Grifol era of the White Sox begins with a strong first impression

After Pedro Grifol pulled on a White Sox jersey with his last name and No. 5 on the back, he gave his stamp of approval to general manager Rick Hahn.

“I feel good,” Grifol told Han. “I like the colors.”

If all goes well, he’ll be wearing them for a while.

The White Sox officially named Grifol as their new manager Thursday, introducing Tony La Russa’s successor at a nearly hour-long press conference on the South Side.

“It’s a pretty exciting day here today,” Hahn said. “You might see me smile a little more than last year and gush a little more than last year.

“And that’s because I’m finding it a little difficult to contain the excitement that many of us are feeling to be able to introduce you to Pedro Grifol as our new manager.”

Grifol was one of about 30 initial applicants for the job, a group that was whittled down to eight when the Sox began a first round of interviews.

CONNECTED: Hahn describes the White Sox’s scouting process that led to Grifol

He is a baseball lifer who played nine seasons in the minor leagues before a post-playing career in which he filled multiple positions. Grifol started as a scout, worked at the front office level as a farm director and coached in the minor and major leagues.

He spent the last 10 seasons with the Royals, serving as their bench coach from 2020-22, and spent the previous 13 seasons in the Mariners organization.

“I have taken the road less traveled to this position,” Grifol said.

Or well traveled. And with his extensive resume, it was no surprise to hear Hahn say that Grifol “knocked our socks off” in his first interview. It was supposed to be 90 minutes but ended up being 3 and a half hours.

“Honestly, I had to check myself a few times to make sure I was going into the next interviews with a completely open mind,” Khan said.

Grifol’s passion for the game was evident Thursday, as was his enthusiasm for this opportunity with this team. He first started thinking about becoming a manager in 1994, midway through his career, after undergoing shoulder surgery. A scout told him he needed to play a few more seasons first.

And as the manager in Kansas City, he had a unique perspective on the White Sox’s disappointing 2022 season marred by injuries and underperformance.

“There were a lot of injuries, so we very rarely played a full Chicago White Sox team,” Grifol said. “The fact that they’re going 81-81 and at times not playing with the energy that they’re capable of playing with and winning 81 games is that you almost look at them like, ‘Damn, you’re really talented. Because you had injuries, the energy went off and on and you still won 81 games.”

The White Sox had other problems. Their attack was weaker. They made too many fundamental errors on base and struggled defensively.

A new manager alone won’t fix everything that’s gone wrong, but Grifol will ultimately be judged on wins and losses. The White Sox are counting on him to be the fresh voice they need to get back on track in this competitive window.

Thursday was a good first impression.

“We’re going to be fundamentally sound, we’re going to play with passion, with pride for this uniform,” Grifol said. “It means something. We will respect the game, our fans and earn their trust. We will be ready to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball.

“We’re going to work hard and play winning baseball every night. We will definitely hold each other accountable. I really see great things happening here. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Said Hahn: “We sit here today and with the hiring of Pedro we feel we are taking an important step towards getting back on the trajectory we all felt we were on in previous seasons before the disappointment of last season.”

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