Losing is teaching manager Robin Ventura a lot about himself
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org July 23, 2013 10:28PM
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Updated: July 23, 2013 11:58PM
Buddy Bell managed during hard times with the Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies and Kansas City Royals, so he knows from experience what White Sox manager Robin Ventura is dealing with.
First and foremost, there’s the losing, which continued in haphazard fashion in a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Tigers on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field. On top of that, in the last week alone, Ventura has benched a top player (Alex Rios) for not running hard and engaged in a minor tiff with his young star pitcher (Chris Sale) about a decision to walk Tigers star Miguel Cabrera intentionally. All of it unfolded against the backdrop of a fast-approaching trade deadline that has a half-dozen or so players on pins and needles.
All of it probably contributed to Ventura getting ejected in the first inning by first-base umpire Gary Darling, who ruled first baseman Adam Dunn obstructed Torii Hunter in the basepath during a rundown. It was the first ejection of the season for the calm and controlled Ventura, who was tossed four times as a rookie last season.
With all the bad baseball that has gone on, it’s a wonder he hasn’t gone off on a weekly basis. On Tuesday, the Sox committed four errors, losing pitcher Hector Santiago walked five in six innings and Alejandro De Aza got picked off first base by Tigers starter Rick Porcello (7-6). Left fielder Dayan Viciedo bobbled Hernan Perez’s triple to the left-field wall four times, allowing Perez to score standing up.
Bell, the Sox’ assistant general manager, managed mostly losing teams, so he knows what it’s like to run a team at this time of year.
‘‘It was always all a retool, a
rebuild, whatever you want to call it,’’ Bell said. ‘‘That’s a really, really tough spot to be in, but it’s a tougher spot when you’re not sure where [the franchise is] going. Are you
going to retool, rebuild? Are you going to keep players? A lot of our players aren’t sure if they’re going to be here or not. It’s tougher to manage when you’re in that position than if you know exactly what we’re going to do.’’
A lot went on off the field Tuesday. The latest trade rumor going around was right-hander Jake Peavy on his way to the Boston Red Sox. In the bullpen, All-Star reliever Jesse Crain was testing his right shoulder for the purpose of getting ready in time to be traded. Earlier in the day, Sale went into Ventura’s office to apologize for disagreeing about Cabrera.
The talk was about ‘‘who’s in charge,’’ Ventura said.
As Ventura went on to say, every day brings a new challenge, and there are more than last season because of ‘‘the situation we’re in, injuries and things like that.’’
‘‘You deal with different things, different people and emotions, and when you’re not winning games it’s always more difficult inside the locker room than it is when you’re winning,’’ Ventura said. ‘‘I’ve been through it as a player, so it’s not like I haven’t seen it before. But being the manager, it’s different.’’
The higher-ups say they remain firmly in Ventura’s corner.
‘‘Robin is such a smart guy, and one reason why is because he’s always learning something,’’ Bell said. ‘‘Going through something you’ve never gone through before shows you a different side of yourself, and it’s always interesting to see how you handle it.
‘‘But he seems the same this year as he did last year. As a player, you can only ask the manager to be as consistent as he can possibly be. And he’s as consistent as anybody. That’s what makes him so good.’’