White Sox players say trades are ‘part of the game’

Three consecutive good starts do not a season make. They don’t even make for a trade piece, for that matter.

But White Sox right-hander Chris Flexen’s recent run of good ones — as small a sample size as it is — has at least one of White Sox general manager Chris Getz’s offseason acquisitions shaping up nicely.

Getz caught Flexen on a buy-low free-agent deal during the offseason after a season in which he posted a 6.86 ERA with the Mariners and Rockies. Signing him for $1.75 million to provide rotation innings seemed well worth a shot, knowing that Flexen had more spiffy ERAs of 3.61 in 31 starts and 3.73 in 22 starts with the Mariners in 2021 and 2022.

Flexen never really seemed to catch the fancy of manager Pedro Grifol during spring training, then opened the season by allowing 13 earned runs in 13⅓ innings in his first three starts and was sent to the bullpen when prospects Nick Nastrini and Jonathan Cannon were given opportunities to make a couple of starts.

But Flexen worked out some kinks in the bullpen and has returned to the rotation to the tune of the 1.69 ERA in his last three starts he’ll take into Game 1 of a doubleheader Tuesday against the Nationals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Add in two relief appearances, including one of four scoreless innings at Philadelphia, and Flexen has a 1.61 ERA in his last five outings.

Flexen is attacking the strike zone more, pitching with confidence and featuring a slight uptick in velocity.

Grifol’s attention has been captured.

‘‘He had his opportunity to get back in the rotation and just started to get stronger and stronger,’’ Grifol said before the series opener Monday against the Nationals was postponed because of rain. ‘‘Every time he toes the rubber, his work capacity is higher and higher.’’

With his straight-over-the-top delivery and high release point, Flexen offers a different look to hitters.

‘‘It’s a little bit awkward,’’ Grifol said. ‘‘There’s a lot going on with him on the positive end.’’

Having numerous players in a clubhouse knowing they might be traded before the deadline July 30 would seem to be awkward, too, and it’s not a topic Grifol cares to discuss. Players are more at ease talking about it, knowing it comes with the job.

‘‘That’s part of the game,’’ said reliever Steven Wilson, who, with the Padres, had his bags packed to play the Dodgers in Korea in March when he was traded to the Sox as part of the package for right-hander Dylan Cease. ‘‘If [another trade] happens, it happens. With relievers, it can be a revolving door. . . . You just never know.’’

The Sox are 12-29 overall, but they’re 9-7 in their last 16 games with Flexen contributing to the rebound. Working on an inexpensive one-year deal, he might be an attractive target for a contending team willing to give up a prospect or two. The rest of the rotation might be trade material, as well, including right-hander Erick Fedde, who is scheduled to pitch Game 2 on Tuesday. Fedde is in the first season of a two-year, $15 million deal.

‘‘That’s not up to me,’’ Grifol said when asked about trades. ‘‘That’s up to Chris and the front office. They have the pulse of what’s going on. My responsibility is to get these 26 guys ready to play baseball, and that’s it. Their responsibility is to set this roster up and add depth when they can and look at the whole picture — not just this year but next year and beyond.’’

In the meantime, players go about their business knowing that, at worst, they likely will go from a last-place team to a contender if they are dealt.

‘‘That’s not something you can control,’’ right-hander Brad Keller said. ‘‘The trade deadline is always a weird time. . . . But we’re also a long ways from that, months away. Right now, we have good camaraderie here, which makes it fun to come to work every day.’’

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