Yankees pitcher Keynan Middleton claims White Sox clubhouse had ‘no rules’
The Chicago White Sox tumbled to fourth in the AL Central after the team won just seven games in July. And former relief pitcher Keynan Middleton thinks he knows why.
Middleton, whom the White Sox sent to the New York Yankees before the trade deadline, said his old club had “no rules” and claimed players were “sleeping in the bullpen” during games while others missed meetings and practices without repercussions.
“I don’t know how you police the culture if there are no rules or guidelines to follow because everyone is doing their own thing,” he said, via ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “Like, how do you say anything about it because there are no rules?”
ESPN reportedly corroborated Middleton’s comments in regard to missed meetings and sleeping players. The White Sox did not comment when asked about what Middleton said, per ESPN.
Middleton added that he believed the issues with the White Sox existed before first-year manager Pedro Grifol arrived on Nov. 1, 2022, and actually started during Tony La Russa’s final season with the team. La Russa resigned after the 2022 season due to health concerns. That squad finished 81-81. Middleton signed a minor league contract with the White Sox in January and said he heard about the team’s dysfunction during spring training.
“When I got to spring training, I heard a lot of the same stuff was happening last year,” Middleton said. “It’s happening again this year, so not sure how I could change it. They don’t tell you not to miss PFPs (pitcher fielding practices). They don’t tell you not to miss meetings, and if it happens, it’s just, ‘OK.’
“They say [expletive] rolls downhill,” he added. “I feel like some guys don’t want to speak up when they should have. It’s hard to police people when there are no rules. If guys are doing things that you think are wrong, who is it wrong to? You or them? It’s anyone’s judgment at that point.”
White Sox didn’t have good veteran leadership
Another issue for Middleton was that the team’s veterans didn’t set the tone for the season. He pointed out pitchers Lance Lynn and Kendall Graveman, who both missed spring training for the World Baseball Classic this past March, as two players who didn’t help the team develop before the season.
The White Sox lost 21 of 29 games to open the season, including a a 10-game losing streak in 10 days in mid-April.
“If you’re trying to create culture, you need your big dogs,” Middleton said. “The guys who played in the WBC were our big dogs, and those are the guys I feel like can police the things that are happening.
“There was no jelling of the team. We’re supposed to find our identity in spring training so we can roll out for the season. If you don’t find your identity, you’re scuffling from Day 1.”
Lynn and Graveman were also dealt at the deadline — Lynn to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Graveman to the Houston Astros.
Middleton, meanwhile, had a solid stint with the White Sox before his departure. He had a 3.96 ERA with 47 strikeouts and 33 hits allowed in 36 1/3 innings. He’s pitched in three total innings over two games since joining the Yankees, both loses for New York against the Astros. Middleton didn’t allow a hit or a run in either of his appearances and struck out five batters.
This week will be an interesting one for Middleton as his new team will play his old team in Chicago. Neither the Yankees nor the White Sox are playing particularly well, though: New York is 58-54, fourth in the AL East and 4.5 games out of the wild card, while Chicago is 45-68 and very much out of postseason contention.