Paul Konerko's solo homerun flies over Seattle left fielder Greg Halman and into the hands of a fan in the 4th inning to give the Sox a 1-0 lead during the Chicago White Sox-Seattle Mariners game Monday June 6, 2011 at US Cellular Field. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
Updated: July 15, 2011 12:36AM
Former White Sox Gold Glove third baseman Robin Ventura is coming back to the organization as a special adviser to player development director Buddy Bell.
Ventura, who played beside manager Ozzie Guillen for eight seasons, long had been sought by Guillen and the Sox to rejoin the organization in a coaching or minor-league capacity.
But Ventura wanted to be close to his California home after his playing career was over and his four children were growing up.
His new position will allow him “home time,’’ while he works in short stretches visiting each Sox minor-league affiliate through the summer to evaluate player performances and report to Bell.
“They gave me the opportunity to be a little flexible, and that’s the part that intrigued me,’’ Ventura said Monday. “It would be a different sell if it was for six months at a time. But going for three or four days was appealing. I’m excited to do it.
“It evolved the last time I was in Chicago. I sat down with Buddy. It just happened. It’s something where I’ve been coaching high school and Little League.
‘‘I know a lot of the instructors, so it’s something I’m familiar with enough that I won’t be coming to town to tell them what to do. If I can help, I’ll help.’’
Long an organization favorite, and a favorite of Guillen, Ventura called the Sox “my baseball home,’’ even though he played with the New York Mets and Yankees after leaving as a free agent in 1998.
“It’s awesome,’’ Guillen said of Ventura’s hiring. “A great idea. He’s a baseball man. He loves this organization. It was a great decision by whoever — I think it was Buddy Bell.’’
Bell said that he had tried for several years to add Ventura, but it wasn’t until that visit to Chicago several months ago that the subject got serious, with Ventura’s three older daughters in high school and college and his youngest son now 12.
“Robin was the consummate professional, and I can’t imagine a better role model and adviser for young, developing players in our farm system,’’ Bell said.
Pick to click
The Sox selected Keenyn Walker, a 6-3 switch-hitting outfielder from Central Arizona Junior College, with their first pick, the 47th overall, in the amateur draft.
Walker, 20, is a sophomore who hit .402 with 11 doubles, eight triples, four home runs, 50 RBI and 65 stolen bases in 63 games this season.
‘‘This is a highly athletic kid with plus-plus speed,’’ said Doug Laumann, the Sox’ director of amateur scouting. ‘‘He’s a scout’s dream and a plus defensive center fielder.’’
Walker is a native of Salt Lake City who was drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2009 draft and by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 38th round in 2010.