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Chicago White Sox general manager Rick Hahn denied a claim made by former reliever Keynan Middleton that the team allowed a rookie reliever to regularly fall asleep in the bullpen this season.
“I was surprised to see the report this morning,” Hahn said, per the Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “At no point during the course of the year had there been a reliever sleeping in the bullpen during that game. That’s just wrong.”
Middleton was traded from the White Sox to the New York Yankees ahead of the Aug. 1 deadline in exchange for minor league pitching prospect Juan Carela.
In a report from ESPN’s Jesse Rogers on Sunday, Middleton outlined a “no rules” culture within the White Sox that allows players to seemingly do as they please.
“We came in with no rules,” Middleton said. “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. Like, how do you say anything about it because there are no rules?
“You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game. You have guys missing meetings. You have guys missing PFPs (pitcher fielding practices), and there are no consequences for any of this stuff.”
Multiple sources told Rogers that “a pitcher was seen napping during games as well as skipping fielding practice.”
Lance Lynn, who was traded from the White Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers, appeared to corroborate Middleton’s comments while speaking with reporters on Monday.
“I was there a lot longer than Key was,” Lynn said. “He’s not wrong.”
However, White Sox manager Pedro Grifol denied Middleton’s “no rules” culture claim.
“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 heading in the right direction.”
Hahn and Grifol also said that there have been instances where players have violated team rules and have faced discipline behind closed doors, noting that “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse.”
Hahn indicated Middleton was among those players.
“Quite frankly, it’s a little bit ironic that Keynan’s the one saying this, because my last conversation with him face-to-face was a week ago in the clubhouse where he sought me out to apologize for his unprofessional behavior Pedro had called him out on,” Hahn said. “At the time I figured that was a one-off.”
The White Sox are in the midst of a highly disappointing season that saw them become sellers at the trade deadline, offloading Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Joe Kelly, Kendall Graveman, Reynaldo Lopez and Jake Burger.
Chicago sits fourth in the AL Central with a 46-68 record and is on pace to miss the postseason for the eighth time in the last 10 seasons.
Whether the reports are true or not, the offseason will be a major inflection point for White Sox management.
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