Considering the expectations the Chicago White Sox had coming out of spring training, the fact that they entered the All-Star break with a three-game lead over Cleveland atop the Central Division, it would seem that there would be a few moments to pat themselves on the back.
Not under Robin Ventura's watch.
The first-year manager has spent his time instilling a one-game-at-a-time mentality, making sure his players don't dwell on past successes and failures or get ahead of themselves and look at the big picture.
That's not about to change, either.
"The reality of it is you just look at what you're doing," Ventura said. "I would say for us (the planning) is one week. You kind of plan out one week and go from there. We're not planned out two months (ahead) in the reality of it. But those (long-range) conversations come up all the time as we're in our room going over different things that we have to be prepared for."
What they are prepared for is hopefully some more veteran arms back on the pitching staff. Philip Humber is looking to return from an elbow flexor next week, leaving John Danks as the only starting pitcher still on the disabled list. But with Danks down, there has been a positive, specifically the emergence of rookie Jose Quintana. The lefty is 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA, giving the Sox a nasty trio of Chris Sale, Jake Peavy and Quintana.
When Danks is ready to return, as long as Gavin Floyd stays hot, there's a good chance Humber will go to the bullpen and Quintana will stay in the rotation.
The Sox feel pitching is the key to a playoff run, and that means the bullpen needs to get healthy, with Jesse Crain coming off the DL. The Sox entered the break with six rookies in the bullpen, and while it has worked so far, the intensity of a pennant chase can make young players wilt.
The trade deadline could get interesting. The Sox already added Kevin Youkilis to stabilize the hole they had at third base when Brent Morel went down with a back injury. However, general manager Ken Williams doesn't have a lot of payroll flexibility, so there's a good chance they won't do anything else.
Williams likes what has been happening with the Sox, especially the way the coaching staff has had the players ready to play every day and has kept them focused, so staying with the chemistry that has been developed might be the smartest move.
"Wins and losses are great, we're in first place, but besides that, the way they have handled these young guys, it's not just about this year," team captain Paul Konerko said. "They're trying to build something beyond this year. The players will come and go, but they're building something where it's about the culture and a way of doing things, kind of like Tampa Bay. I think Tampa is the model. They're above everyone when it comes to that mentality, and we're all shooting for that.
"It's about a feeling that you know how things are going to be done, there's a way you go about your business, and yeah, there will be changes to the roster, but that mentality doesn't change. I think we're on the right track here, which is great. It's not just about this team, it's about the future as well."