The Chicago White Sox were one of the biggest disappointments in Major League Baseball in 2022. They were heavy favorites to dominate the American League Central, which was considered one of the weakest in baseball.

However, the White Sox got off to a slow start and never figured things out. Some of the blame went to former manager Tony LaRussa, who often made troubled decisions that did not seem to be in the best interests of his team. He also refused to put the hammer down when it looked like multiple players were not giving their best effort.

Injuries were also a major issue for the Sox. Key players Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Yasmani Grandal, Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, and Jose Abreu were rarely in the lineup at the same time. Pitchers Lance Lynn, Michael Kopech and Joe Kelly also suffered injuries

In addition to those issues, the White Sox struggled to play good defensive baseball for much of the year, and much of that was from the way Rick Hahn constructed the roster.

The White Sox finished 81-81 and were 11 games behind the first-place Cleveland Guardians. A good start is imperative in 2023.

3. New manager Pedro Grifol will be an immediate upgrade

This is much more than addition by subtraction. Yes, the absence of LaRussa is a positive, but Grifol will push his players hard. It starts in spring training where drills will be run in an efficient matter and hitters will work on their skills.

No longer is it about coaches lobbing in easy throws and admiring how far the hitters can launch the ball. It will be about baseball fundamentals, situational hitting and improving bat-to-ball skills.

Grifol will improve the culture around the White Sox by treating players with respect and then making sure they earn it.

“You have to understand, really, what culture looks like,” Grifol said. “You go to a ballpark, you see a team and right away, you are like, ‘Damn, that team is together. That team is fighting together. That team works hard.’ That’s really what culture is.”

2. Defense will improve to some degree in 2023

The White Sox ranked as one of the worst defensive teams in either league last year, and Grifol and his coaching staff knows this area has to improve this season.

The departure of Jose Abreu has a negative implication on the team's offense because he has been the team's most consistent hitter. However, he struggled in the field and when the first baseman fails to make plays, that's a disaster. Since Abreu was at 1st base, Andrew Vaughn was often in right field, and his defense at that position was not acceptable.

His natural position is 1st base, and he slides back there this season. That should be an improvement. Bringing back Elvis Andrus gives the White Sox a plus defender at second base, while Tim Anderson can make all the tough plays at shortstop. The question is whether he can consistently make the routine plays.

New leftfielder Andrew Benintendi will provide a major upgrade at that position, as he is a fielder who can win the Gold Glove. Luis Robert can deliver spectacular plays in centerfield, but consistency is an issue.

1. Bullpen remains an issue

The best thing about the White Sox bullpen has been closer Liam Hendriks. However, the 34-year-old announced in early January that he's receiving treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Nevertheless, he has been part of the team during the early part of camp.

“He's been around just about every day,” pitcher Lucas Giolito said. “Same exact spirits, same exact Liam that we all know and love.”

There's no timetable for Hendriks' full return to baseball, and while there is hope he can pitch this season, they can't count on it.

The White Sox are hoping that Garrett Crochet will return from Tommy John surgery and provide dependable relief pitching some time in May. Crochet has a 2.54 career earned-run average.

Kendall Graveman, Joe Kelly and Aaron Bummer will be asked to carry the load. However, it seems clear that Hahn is going to have to find a new closer if the team is going to make a run at the American League Central title.