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Column: Bromance between Chicago White Sox manager Pedro Grifol and Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is one for the books

Chicago White Sox manager Pedro Grifol believes he has the support of Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in spite of the worst start in franchise history.

Does he feel fortunate?

“I feel fortunate that I work for an owner like Jerry,” Grifol said Wednesday before a 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I just think that he’s been in this game for 44-45 years, and he’s a baseball guy. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work for him and wear this uniform with them. So I’m grateful to be here.”

Forget about managing. With quotes like that, Grifol might have a future in upper management. This is a bromance like no other in the long and storied history of Chicago baseball owners and managers.

The Sox are a season-low 27 games under .500 with a 15-42 record, having lost eight straight and 12 of 13. Grifol has a .347 winning percentage (76-143) in his two seasons in Chicago, the lowest of any manager in Sox history.

Korey Lee’s solo home run in the ninth prevented the Sox from being shut out again. They had only four hits in front of an announced crowd of 11,599. It marked the first time in franchise history the Sox went 0-7 on a homestand, which made it even tougher to stomach for the few fans who bothered to come out.

“Fifteen and 40-whatever is tough,” Grifol said. “I don’t break it down that much to 0-7, the first one in history. I don’t break it down that much. I just break it down that today we didn’t win a baseball game, and we had a chance to win and we didn’t get it done. What are we going to do now on Friday in Milwaukee and how are we going to prepare to win a game? As far as the statistics and the history of this team and what we’re doing, I’m not really focused on that.”

The Sox looked as flat as they did on Sunday, when Grifol used that word to rip his players. They responded by saying it was his opinion, not theirs. The next day he responded to the players by doubling down on his comments.

“This is not divided by any means,” Grifol said. “This is not them against Pedro (or) Pedro against them. It’s just a situation.”

Yep, it’s one big, happy family.

Photos: Toronto Blue Jays 3, Chicago White Sox 1

If last season was a “nightmare,” as Reinsdorf admitted in a rare interview he probably regretted, it’s difficult to think of a proper euphemism for this team. Whatever it is, it’s definitely not printable.

The Sox were 23 games out of first in the American League Central, but listening to Grifol, you would think they were just one little winning streak away from contending. Someone asked if he saw a noticeable difference between the Sox and the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees.

“Those guys are a good team, all the way around,” he said. “Noticeable difference? I mean, I don’t know. I don’t focus on that stuff. I focus on trying to prepare to beat them. As far as evaluating their team against ours, I’m not focusing on that.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

I asked Grifol if Reinsdorf gave him any indication that he’s upset about the team’s play.

“No, we don’t talk about that stuff,” he replied.

You don’t talk about the team?

“We talk about the team,” he said. “I don’t get into the personal stuff with him. And even if I did, I wouldn’t share it here.”

I’m not sure what was “personal” about the team’s play. Anyway, Grifol was glad to share nuggets of those conversations with the Sun-Times, telling them “nobody wants to win more than he does” and Reinsdorf is “100% committed to winning.”

Somewhere Tom Thibodeau is laughing.

Sometimes you feel for a manager on a bad team who has been dealt a bad hand by his front office and an owner who refuses to spend. But Grifol makes it impossible to feel sorry for him with his serial bootlicking and insistence that things really aren’t as bad as they seem.

Andrew Benintendi and Andrew Vaughn are both off to horrible starts, as even they would probably admit. Benintendi’s minus-1.6 fWAR entering Wednesday was the worst in the majors. Vaughn’s minus-0.9 was third-worst.

“I see improvement in these guys’ games and approach and the way they’re going about it pregame,” Grifol said.

According to Baseball Reference, Benintendi’s .491 OPS is the worst among qualified players since 1968. It’s worth a reminder: Benintendi received the largest contract in franchise history — five years, $75 million — in January 2023.

Vaughn is hitting .197 with a .567 OPS, sixth-worst in the majors. Instead of working things out in the minors, he was hitting cleanup Wednesday.

“You can’t overreact on a couple months of baseball,” Grifol said.

The season is one-third over, and Grifol refuses to make any changes because he doesn’t want to overreact. Apparently he’s an admirer of Artūras Karnišovas’ philosophy of doubling down on whatever is not working, then tripling down when that doesn’t work.

Catcher Martín Maldonado, meanwhile, makes Benintendi and Vaughn look like Josh Gibson and Babe Ruth. Maldonado came into Wednesday hitting .083 with a .266 OPS but fortunately didn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for low man on the Sox totem pole. Yet he’s not a candidate to sit because he works so well with the pitchers, Grifol constantly reminds fans through the media. That Sox pitching staff, by the way, has a 4.75 ERA, second-worst in the majors.

But wait. There’s more.

The Sox lost starter Mike Clevinger to the 15-day injured list Tuesday with right elbow inflammation. Grifiol said “a lot of (the problem) is he didn’t have a spring training. He was quick to get here because we needed him and it was just building up his work capacity.”

Clevinger signed on April 4 and made two starts at Triple-A Charlotte before being called up to start on May 6. The Sox were 8-26 and 14 games out of first by then. But they “needed him” to come up without properly building his arm strength and then are surprised that he’s injured already?

The clock should be ticking on Grifol, but there is no clock in this strange scenario in which a manager can lose day after day, week after week without being held accountable.

No wonder he’s so grateful to wear the White Sox uniform.