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Williams wants grinders, Ventura just wants winners

Chicago White Sox v MinnesotTwins

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins

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Updated: September 20, 2013 6:28AM



MINNEAPOLIS — Old-school White Sox fans liked hearing what executive vice president Ken Williams said last week.

Williams always has been about ‘‘grinders’’ and players who go about their business with an edgy mentality. He said every team needs them and went out of his way to suggest the 2013 Sox need more of that when he spoke with the
media at U.S. Cellular Field.

Manager Robin Ventura heard it, too. But while he understands where Williams is coming from, he doesn’t necessarily agree.

‘‘I get what he’s saying,’’ Ventura said Sunday. ‘‘But any time you lose, especially if you don’t hit, it looks like you don’t have grinders and it looks lethargic.’’

Ventura said the Sox already have some of what Williams said they need.

‘‘I think those are statements that come from a season like this,’’ Ventura said.

The Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-2 on Sunday for their third victory in the four-game
series but only their 49th against 74 losses this season. Williams said this season has weighed heavily on him, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and everyone in the organization.

‘‘We certainly have to have a little bit more of that edge,’’ Williams said. ‘‘You’ve got to have an edge about you as a team and a grind about you that is relentless. I have not seen that.’’

Williams said that, if asked, he will suggest that general manager Rick Hahn look for players of that ilk for next season.

‘‘You guys make fun of me seemingly every time I talk about ‘Chicago tough’ and the grind of it, but I believe in it,’’ said Williams, a
former player.

Ventura was a former player, too. The walking definition of ‘‘chill,’’ he never was characterized as the gritty-gutty type Williams was speaking of. But Williams knew Ventura had an edge of his own when he hired him to manage.

‘‘Sometimes people had it that I didn’t care,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I didn’t slam my helmet down. I didn’t steal a base. I wasn’t fast, so if I didn’t beat something out by a half-step, I wasn’t trying hard.

‘‘People kind of misunderstand the personality of what’s inside. I figured out early that you won’t change that. This is my personality, so I’m not going to sit there and be a raging lunatic just so people will say, ‘He’s got fire.’ ’’

Ventura has made a point of mentioning rookie right-hander Andre Rienzo’s energy and displays of exuberance more than once.

‘‘Yeah, but I’ve also seen guys with energy and life throw it right down the middle and give up home runs,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘Some are just unique to have the talent and be unique in their personality, like Andre. And then you might have Kep [unruffled infielder Jeff Keppinger]. Kep’s not Rienzo, but he’s pretty good right now [with 12 hits in his last 31 at-bats]. It looked worse earlier because he wasn’t hitting. Doesn’t mean he wasn’t trying.

“It’s always nice to have guys with life, but ability always trumps personality.’’

And grinding is more than getting the uniform dirty.

‘‘Grinding out an at-bat is not striking out with a man on third base,’’ bench coach Mark Parent said. ‘‘Put the ball in play and put pressure on the other team.’’

Ventura is right: The Sox look less lethargic when they hit. They overcame three errors — two of them by Keppinger — by getting three hits, including a home run, and three RBI from Alexei Ramirez; two doubles and an RBI from Avisail Garcia; and two hits and an RBI from Keppinger.

A weak-hitting team for most of the season, the Sox have won nine of their last 14 games. They’re hitting .307 in their last seven games.

‘‘When you have guys on base and you knock a guy in with two outs, it just looks more energetic,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘It looks better.’’

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

Twitter: CST_soxvan



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