Robin Ventura, Adam Dunn targets of fan complaints at SoxFest
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUwEN Staff Reporter January 25, 2014 7:00PM
Updated: February 27, 2014 6:55AM
While the fans were pleasant and adoring overall, some displayed an edge in their line of questioning during a seminar with manager Robin Ventura, general manager Rick Hahn and broadcaster Ken Harrelson on Saturday at SoxFest.
One fan said he wanted to see Ventura take players to task in plain view and wondered whether the laid-back Ventura ‘‘had a pulse.’’ Another blasted slugger Adam Dunn, who had been well-received by fans during the opening ceremony Friday.
On stage, Hahn defended Ventura — he said he prefers his manager to deal with players in private — and Dunn, calling him the Sox’ most productive hitter during a three-month stretch.
Afterward, Hahn said the mood of fans, some of whom groaned when the names of Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley came up in a discussion about offensive weaknesses at catcher, is ‘‘completely understandable.’’
‘‘We lost 99 games last year, and these people have come out in the dead of winter to show their support for the team,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘But at the same time, they have some questions on their mind.’’
Hahn defended Ventura’s passion, though.
‘‘Those of us who are around him on a daily basis and see the amount of energy and time he puts in and have the benefit of seeing that passion behind closed doors, I think it was important for me to make that clear,’’ Hahn said.
Said Ventura, who received a multiyear contract extension Friday: ‘‘I played for managers that did it both ways, and I think it’s more of an effective approach to do it inside and not let people see it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care or I’m not mad.’’
Dunn OK with time share
With Paul Konerko taking on the role of designated hitter against left-handed pitching and Cuban slugger Jose Abreu taking over at first base, Dunn will get squeezed out of some at-bats. He said he can deal with that.
‘‘Easily,’’ said Dunn, who led the Sox in home runs with 34 and in RBI with 86. ‘‘Whatever to win, I don’t care. The good news is, there’s no egos, especially with me and Paul.’’
Dunn, who is entering the final season of a four-year, $56 million contract, said last season he wouldn’t care to be part of a tear-down project in 2014.
‘‘I don’t think that it’s a rebuild,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think we completely blew the team up.’’
If the Sox aren’t in contention, the chances of Dunn being dealt before the trade deadline will increase. He said things related to his contract don’t concern him.
‘‘No, that’s something you can’t control,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m not going to lose sleep over it.’’
Konerko ready to adapt
Konerko, on preparing for part-time work in his last season: ‘‘Talking to guys who have taken on this role, who have gone from playing for a long time and being starting players and then going to the bench, that’s a role that I accept.’’
Konerko said he isn’t above doing anything that’s asked of him.
‘‘There’s nothing that can be asked of me that I’m going to be out there, change my mind and think, ‘I shouldn’t be out here right now,’ ’’ he said. ‘‘I’ve gotten over that already.’’
Konerko is keeping his post-playing plans private, but he said they don’t involve major-league baseball — at least not immediately. He has three children at home.