Pedro Grifol estimated that he last attended the winter meetings in 2011.
More than a decade later, he returns to a new role as a major league manager.
“It’s a little bit different,” Grifol said Tuesday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. “I’m excited to see everyone. The reception was very good, the feedback was very good. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Grifol continues to build bonds with players after being featured as the manager of the Chicago White Sox more than a month ago.
“He’s already spent a couple of hours face-to-face with some of our players,” general manager Rick Hahn said Monday. “He’s already built some relationships with them over the last few weeks. It will get stronger over the next few months.
“Last year, a lot went the wrong way, and that’s in no way down to an individual or the coaching staff. One of the areas where we think we have an opportunity to be better is having a new group and new perspectives. We think that will benefit us in the long run.”
Grifol said the conversations focused on the future.
“We really haven’t entered 2022,” he said. “We just talked about what we need to do in 2023. A high-energy spring training. It will be quality work, not quantity. Get them in, get them out, work hard. Speed up the game a bit. Speed up your workouts a bit.
“And that’s what we’re going to focus on. We’re in the process of putting them together as a staff.”
Meanwhile, the Sox continue to build their roster.
“It’s a work in progress right now,” Grifol said. “I lost (first baseman José) Obvious Abreu (for Houston Astros)and we’re trying to put together a roster that we think will be able to compete in the (American League) Central.
“(Beginner Mike) Clevinger was a very good choice for us. Rounds out our rotation. Needs, in itself, I think there is versatility in this club, but we are in the process of going through it. We want an athletic, fast-paced club. So when it comes to specific needs, I don’t think there is one. We’re just looking to build a better roster.”
Grifol is willing to contribute in any way he can when it comes to potential moves.
“I only answer questions when (front-office officials) ask me,” he said. “It’s a different eye, a different look from the outside coming in.
“I am the manager. We have a really good front office that knows what they’re doing and knows how to put clubs together. I’m fully confident that when the time comes, we’ll have a nice roster to work with.”
Grifol doesn’t see the upcoming World Baseball Classic as an obstacle for a manager during his first spring training with a team.
“The reason I say that is because I’ve coordinated camps before during the WBC,” Grifol said. “Most of the players who go to the WBC are everyday players. Those guys are going to prepare and go play some really good baseball.
“You give other guys an opportunity to show up in spring training and you never know, someone might make the team or impress to a point where, (if) something happens during the year, we have a very good about what this special player can do in the big leagues. So it’s really next man up as we watch these guys compete for something they love.”
Tim Anderson was previously announced as a member of Team USA. Center fielder Luis Robert and third baseman Yoán Moncada could play for Cuba.
Grifol sees potential benefits for players participating in the event.
“It has to be ready to go,” he said. “You’ve been talking since the beginning of March. This is the big scene. They’re playing for something that happens every four years. This will be the first time that, if it happens, (Robert and Moncada) can come back and play for Team Cuba.
“I don’t take this lightly. Their preparation right now is geared toward, “I have to be ready to come in early March.” They will continue that until the start of the season for us.”