White Sox banter pits Ex-Yankees LF vs. Yankees pitcher

Ex-Yankees LF Andrew Benintendi and current Yankees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton.

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The Yankees vs. White Sox series is over but the pre-game banter seems to continue. Ex-Yankees left fielder Andrew Benintendi, who is now with Chicago, stoutly defended his current team against the allegations leveled by Yankees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton.

Earlier this week, Chicago secured a two-out-of-three victory against New York at Guaranteed Rate Field. Then, on Thursday, the White Sox made a move by claiming former top pitching prospect Deivi Garcia off waivers from the Yankees.

However, the week kicked off in a controversial manner. Yankees relief pitcher Keynan Middleton drew attention from those on the South Side with his critical comments about the culture of his former team.

Current Yankees pitcher vs. Ex-Yankees LF

Middleton, who joined the Yankees on the eve of the trade deadline, ponders how it’s possible to manage the team’s culture when there aren’t any rules or guidelines to follow. Keynan Middleton claims as everyone was doing things their own way, it was difficult to address anything about it at the Chicago White Sox since there were no established rules.

“You have rookies sleeping in the bullpen during the game,” former Chicago White Sox pitcher and Yankees reliever Keynan Middleton said. “You have guys missing meetings. You have guys missing PFPs (pitcher fielding practices), and there are no consequences for any of this stuff.”

After the series, Andrew Benintendi came out to counter him. The left-fielder, who briefly played for the Yankees last season, left the Bronx during the offseason after signing a lucrative five-year, $75 million contract with the White Sox.

Andrew Benintendi in pinstripes
Jason Szenes/New York Post

Following their 9-2 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday, Benintendi addressed concerns about his new team’s culture. The former All-Star conceded that Chicago’s challenging season (the White Sox hold a record of 47-69 as of Friday) is significantly impacting the atmosphere within the clubhouse. He emphasized the significance of discussing culture in the right manner, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.

“It’s something you’re always working on. And the more we talk about culture — obviously, it’s something important,” the ex-Yankees outfielder told.

Benintendi expressed his perspective, noting that incessant discussions about the topic could feel overwhelming, and he emphasized the importance of allowing it to develop naturally. He mentioned that there’s an opportunity to address this over the upcoming two months, aiming to make gradual improvements and strengthen team bonds. The former Yankees player further mentioned that recent progress has been noticeable, and the situation seems to be moving in a positive direction, as reported.

The exchange of verbal jabs was initiated by Middleton over the weekend when he was questioned about his upcoming return to Chicago on Monday.

Ex-White Sox pitcher’s tirade

Middleton expressed his thoughts on his experience while he was in Chicago, particularly regarding the White Sox’s challenging season, stating that it was a rather gloomy situation. He highlighted that the experience wasn’t enjoyable for the most part due to various factors. He also emphasized his appreciation for being in a different setting now, where the environment and atmosphere are distinct, and he doesn’t have to be concerned about certain issues.

During a discussion with ESPN on Sunday, Middleton candidly discussed the issues within the White Sox team. He questioned how the culture could be regulated in the absence of clear rules or guidelines, as everyone seemed to be operating independently. Middleton wondered how any commentary could be made regarding the culture when there was a lack of established rules.

He highlighted instances of rookies sleeping in the bullpen during games and various players skipping meetings or pitcher fielding practices, all without facing any repercussions.

He suggested that there seemed to be a reluctance among some players to address issues when necessary, possibly because of a lack of established guidelines. Middleton noted that it becomes challenging to enforce discipline in such an environment.

Middleton reaffirmed his viewpoint on Monday.

Relief pitcher Keynan Middleton of the New York Yankees

Middleton reaffirmed his stance, emphasizing his belief in a proper approach to business. However, he chose not to provide additional commentary on the matter, underscoring his focus on his role with the Yankees and the team’s aspiration for postseason success.

Enter White Sox management, who opted to respond in kind.

White Sox manager Pedro Grifol addressed the matter indirectly, noting that he has consistently emphasized the importance of culture within the team since the beginning and reiterated his stance a few weeks ago. He mentioned that while there is progress, there’s still work to be done to reach their desired level.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn expressed surprise upon encountering the report in the morning. He clarified that throughout the year, there had been no instances of a reliever sleeping in the bullpen during a game. He emphasized that such a claim is inaccurate.

Since joining the Yankees before the August 1 trade deadline, Middleton has participated in three games, boasting an ERA of 1.80.

Regarding Benintendi, his inaugural season with the White Sox has been challenging, recording a .272 batting average with merely two home runs across 108 games. The Yankees signed this Gold Glove Award recipient during the 2022 trade deadline through a transaction with the Kansas City Royals. Benintendi participated in 33 regular-season matches with New York, achieving a .254 batting average before enduring a broken wrist that sidelined him for the playoffs.

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