The Chicago White Sox have appointed Pedro Grifol as their new manager on a multi-year contract, replacing the retiring Tony La Russa, who declined the third year of his deal following health concerns.
Grifol became the 42nd manager of the Chicago White Sox in franchise history. The 52-year-old replaces La Russa who hasn’t returned to Guaranteed Rate Field due to health issues.
La Russa had a short spell away from the dugout last season, before deciding that returning wasn't the best option for a third season.
Over the past three seasons Grifol has been working as a bench coach for the Kansas City Royals in tandem with Mike Matheny.
The White Sox have found a man who knows about the current roster after studying them in opposition from playing them in the American League Central for the past decade.
Speaking to the official Chicago White Sox website, Grifol said "We will communicate. We will be fundamentally sound, we will play with passion, pride for this uniform. This means something.
"We will respect the game, our fans and earn their trust. We will be prepared to control the strike zone on both sides of the ball. We will work hard and play winning baseball every night.
"We will definitely hold each other accountable. I truly see great things happening here. I'm really excited to be part of it."
This is Grifol's first managerial position and for someone who never played in the Majors, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has placed a lot of faith in Grifol to balance a talented but erratic roster.
The White Sox came into the 2022 season with soaring expectations having won the AL Central the previous season and made back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in franchise history.
However, they struggled with injuries and consistency to maintain their season and finished with an 81-81 record, far short of what they promised at the start of the campaign.
It's now up to Grifol to help restore the vibe that was once in the clubhouse at the White Sox and he will get help from Hahn.
The White Sox general manager spoke to the official club website and said: "Today is a pretty exciting day around here. You may see me smiling a little bit more than you have over the past year.
"You may see me gushing a little bit more than I have in the past year. That's because it's a little difficult for me to contain the excitement that many of us feel being able to present Pedro Grifol to you all as our new manager."
The process to bring in Grifol was more extensive than the one to get La Russa prior to the 2020 season.
Hahn explained that the list was up to 30 potential candidates, whittled to 22, then eight were invited to be interviewed.
Grifol apparently raised the bar following his interview as Hahn explained: "At the end of our first meeting, I said to him that I know you've been working toward becoming a big league manager for the last 20 years or so.
"I can't imagine that not happening here in the next not-to-distant future, whether it's with us or somebody else. We were very fortunate it ended up being with us in the end."
Hahn mentioned at Grifol's announcement that former Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo will also be part of the backroom staff at the White Sox, as bench coach.
Montoyo has experience of both bench coach and manager roles and, despite the two not having worked together previously, Hahn expressed a desire to move quickly as at least two other teams were understood to be interested in his services.
It looks like 35-year-old Jose Abreu has played his final game for the White Sox after Grifol was asked about the first baseman at his opening press conference and said: "All 30 managers want to see Jose Abreu in their starting line-up.
"He's obviously a guy from the other side that when you see him play, he comes to play every day, he works hard, he plays hard, he performs.
"He's performed for a long time, so obviously we have to sit down and see how this roster shakes out in the next couple of weeks and beyond and see where we go from there."
This should be an exciting season for Chicago. They struggled last season with injuries, but improvements in the roster to add to the talent they already have could and should see the White Sox contending in 2023.