Ventura wants to prove himself to Sox management
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At this point a year ago, Robin Ventura was navigating the early stages of his first season as White Sox manager.
At every turn, or so it seemed, Ventura was being compared to his predecessor — Ozzie Guillen.
The two were teammates with the Sox and they shared the left side of the infield for nine seasons (1989-97), becoming close friends in the process.
But as Ventura showed time and again in 2012, he's a much different personality than Guillen.
Ventura always has a grip on his emotions, usually extra firm. He's gotten better at being more expansive with the media, but never seeks out the spotlight.
As for the financial side, Ventura and Guillen are really on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Ozzie liked his money, nothing wrong with that, but he also liked having multiple years on his contract.
When his desired extension never arrived in 2011, Guillen wasn't happy. And rather than finish out the final year of his existing deal, which would have been 2012, he made an early exit from the Sox and joined the Miami Marlins.
Even though Miami fired him after only one season in the dugout, Guillen is going to be getting checks from the Marlins for three more years.
As for Ventura, he is signed through 2014. But the former Gold Glove third baseman was in the headlines this spring after news broke he turned down a one-year contract extension over the winter.
The initial assumption was Ventura didn't like all the pressures that come with being a major-league manager and he was pining to head back home to Santa Maria, Calif., to resume living the good life.
Before wrapping up a six-game homestand to open the season last Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field, Ventura talked about his decision and what it means.
"I do," Ventura said when asked if he likes being White Sox manager. "I enjoy it. This is the spot I like. There's nothing about it I don't like."
So why — when probably 99.9 percent of Ventura's peers would jump at an extension — turn it down?
"Even as a player, when I already had a contract, I wanted to live through that contract," Ventura said. "I think the way I got this job and how I'm doing this job, in another year, when that's up, if I'm still the right guy for the job I'm still going to be here."
Showing just how different he is in a profession where the money grab always seems to be a priority, Ventura is just fine with his current contract.
Ventura said taking a pass on the one-year extension was also a display of gratitude to Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, former general manager Kenny Williams and current GM Rick Hahn for hiring him as manager with zero experience on any level.
"It's probably different just because of the relationships I have here, who the owner is, who the GM is," Ventura said. "I don't think there's any pressure with that kind of stuff. I'm not holding out for more years or more money. We'll just get there when we get there.
"And it's not like I don't think I'm going to continue managing or anything. I just like things to fit into their little box. So when I have a contract, I play out the contract and we'll figure it out after that."
Ventura has been around the game long enough to know how it works.
If the White Sox flop this season — or in 2014 — as manager, he'll get the majority of blame.
"I'm probably here after next season," Ventura said. "But I want it to be good for both sides. I don't want it to just be on paper that they have to bring me back. Some people probably look at it as different, but I think that's the way it works best. I enjoy managing. I like it. I just don't look that far down the road as far as for myself.
"It's more of the team, and what they think they need. There's always a shelf life for managers.
"You don't know how long it is or when that voice gets tired. Mine could get tired, and they might think they need a change and I don't want it to be a thing like they owe me money so they have to bring me back or they want to make a change. It's just the relationship I have with the team and the ownership and the GM."
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