Robin Ventura brings spring to White Sox’ prep
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org February 22, 2012 10:32PM
“I don’t consider [my demeanor] always laid back," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I do have things I believe in as far as the way they play.” | Al Podgorski~Sun~Times
Updated: March 24, 2012 9:06AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Rookie Robin Ventura looked — and talked — like a veteran when he sat down for his first official interview of spring training as manager of the White Sox, lodging a brief but not very cranky complaint about having to face the bright Arizona sun late Wednesday morning.
The cameras he looked into are nothing new for a 16-season star player. Facing the music when the Sox encounter their first losing streak, well, it wasn’t a day for that. Not on the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting for their first official workouts of Camp Ventura.
Ventura looked as relaxed as any manager who’s done this for a long time. He fielded questions as comfortably as he picked up ground balls as a six-time Gold Glove third baseman, offering only what needed to be said.
Take the Sox’ closer situation. The job is open between Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and possibly Addison Reed, but Ventura wasn’t tipping his hand this soon.
“I have a lot of ideas I will keep between us and the coaching staff,’’ Ventura said. “I’m not going to pinpoint anything right now. Just get spring going and see how it goes.’’
Ventura has an idea about what he’ll say when he addresses the full squad, which has its first workout Tuesday, but he was keeping most of that to himself as well.
“I know what I want to basically say as far as them understanding who I am and what’s expected. I don’t have it all written out, but I know what I want to say.’’
“Which I will do on the 28th when everyone is here. I can’t waste all my material right now.’’
Ventura’s goals for camp are basic and sound: stay healthy and have his first team prepared to play at a high level. Once the games begin he wants maximum effort and his players to enjoy coming to the park every day.
“You want to be ready to start,’’ he said. “The goal is to get us as prepared as we can for Opening Day and for the season. I don’t want guys getting hurt. I want them to get enough at-bats and playing time. If there are guys working for spots, I want to give them enough at-bats or appearances to show what they have. We’ll make decisions off that. That’s what spring is for, to get prepared to actually play in the season. That’s the goal.’’
Much has been made of Ventura’s zero-experience resume and his laid-back demeanor.
“I don’t consider it always laid back,’’ he said. “I do have things I believe in as far as the way they play. Hopefully guys can play better. That’s just obviously something from last year that’s the situation we’re in. Nobody’s going to let them up from that until you have an extended period of playing well and guys playing well. That’s just the facts. That’s just the way it is. We have a long way to go to prove that wrong.’’
None of the players have yet to applaud Ozzie Guillen’s departure. Many are cheering on Ventura’s arrival, however. Right-hander Gavin Floyd was the latest Wednesday.
“I think he’s a great fit for this team,’’ Floyd said. “He’s going to lead this team real well. I think he’s going to be a good encourager and motivator. He’s going to manage the ballgame well. I have no doubt about that. From the times I’ve met him, he’s been a class-act guy.’’
“He’s got a good sense of humor,’’ right-hander Philip Humber said. “As far as the X’s and O’s, I don’t know if he knows because this is his first time so everyone has to adjust as they go. But I know that he knows the game very well.’’
For having never managed, Ventura seems plenty comfortable but far from a know-it-all. There’s a lot to learn on the job.
“I’ve never gone to the mound and taken somebody out,’’ he deadpanned. “That will obviously be new.’’