Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lavalliere Says White Sox Feel That They Can Win

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Lavalliere Says White Sox Feel That They Can Win

Article excerpt

Like stealing the first kiss, the degree of difficulty diminishes thereafter.

"It's tougher to win the first one," Chicago White Sox catcher Mike LaValliere insisted. "No doubt about it."

LaValliere is an expert on the subject. Before joining the White Sox, he was a front-liner with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won the National League East the last three seasons.

LaValliere recalled that in 1990, when the Pirates launched their run, most of his teammates weren't sure they were made of the right stuff. "We knew we had a good team," he said, "but there was some doubt."

It's the same thing, essentially, the White Sox are experiencing. They have been in first place or tied for the lead for the last 57 days, since June 22, but haven't begun to pull away.

"The guys are starting to get that feeling we can win," LaValliere said. "It's not just that we know we can win, but it's ours to win. We don't have to wait for some other club to help us."

Why is he so confident?

"No. 1, we have the horses to win the race. You have to have the quality players, and we have that.

"No. 2, they have to relax and be themselves. Be exactly what they are, quality players."

It could be a treacherous stretch run, but I agree. Not only are the White Sox likely to win, but they could win breezing.

I base my prediction on the weekend series with the second-place Kansas City Royals. The White Sox didn't play well; they should have lost three of four. But they hung on for a split and maintained their 3 1/2-game lead.

They stole the second game on Frank Thomas' eighth-inning home run off Jeff Montgomery, the Royals' bullpen ace. The next night Alex Fernandez, with help from Scott Radinsky, who got the final out, won with a two-hitter.

"People talk about turning it up a notch," LaValliere said. "I don't agree. That could lead to trouble. It could get guys to try to do more than they can do."

Perhaps the best thing going for them, LaValliere explained, is that the players have been "keeping everything on an even keel. They don't get too high after a win or too low after a loss."

I mentioned the 1969 Cubs. In retrospect, manager Leo Durocher made a fatal error. …

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