Even with 99 games left, Nick Swisher took a brief peek Monday to assess the White Sox's transformation.
"With all the things that this team has gone through, we should feel pretty special with where we are right now," he said.
The Sox sent their own message to the rest of the American League Central with a 7-5 comeback win over Minnesota to complete a four-game sweep at U.S. Cellular Field, expand their division lead to 61/2 games and extend their winning streak to seven games.
Manager Ozzie Guillen said he wasn't trying to motivate his players after his Tampa tirade June 1, but the Sox haven't lost since then. Guillen added that he asked a few selected players in spring training if they wanted him to change, but he said he was told to remain his candid self.
Instead, it's the once-struggling Swisher and Paul Konerko who have invigorated an offense that has averaged eight runs since Guillen's explosion.
And Swisher made a point to praise hitting coach Greg Walker, who fell under Guillen's microscope nine days ago.
"The way he's gotten on me to the point where I'm working so hard and getting that feel back," Swisher, who is batting .387 in his last eight games, said after hitting home runs from both sides of the plate Monday. "Somewhere along that line I lost that confidence I used to have, and he helped me regenerate that in my game, and I think it's showing right now.
"Also, I started wearing Toby Hall's pants."
Konerko, who hit a two-run, opposite-field, go-ahead home run in the seventh, felt equally happy for Swisher, who was batting .201 a week ago and void of the swagger that made him popular.
"He's a young guy, so people have to take it easy on him," said Konerko, who went 7-for-16 in the four-game sweep. "He's done well, and sometimes that's the burden when you do well when you're young. They expect it every time. He's going to be there for us."
Konerko, batting .216, hopes to chip in more the way he did Monday.
"We don't care if we stink in the numbers," Konerko said. "We just want to get big hits for the team and help out that way.
"For us, it's a good approach right now because it's going to be a while before someone says you're doing well, as far as what you're doing personally."
Collectively, the Sox have expanded their lead by six games since their winning streak started.
They can put more distance between themselves and the preseason division favorite Tigers in a three-game series starting Tuesday night in Detroit.
"Very, very, very surprised," Guillen said of the Tigers' sub-.500 record. "But don't count those guys out. In this division you never know. You lose five, you're in third place. You win five, you are close, you are right there.
"You never know. Everyone in this division can win five in a row, easily. That's why we got to worry about us, and not anybody else."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times