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posted: 6/8/2013 7:57 PM

LaRussa urges Sox to stay the course

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  • Chicago White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto, second from right, and manager Robin Ventura, right, watch Adam Dunn prepare to connect on a solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Saturday, June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

      Chicago White Sox hitting coach Jeff Manto, second from right, and manager Robin Ventura, right, watch Adam Dunn prepare to connect on a solo home run in the second inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Saturday, June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)

 
 

In 1983, the White Sox opened the season with a 25-31 record under manager Tony LaRussa.

They went 74-32 the rest of the way and won the old American League West by 20 games.

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Here we are, 30 years later, and the Sox are in similar straits.

They did figure out a way to finally beat Oakland on Saturday, winning 4-1 at U.S. Cellular Field after dropping their first five of the season to the A's.

But the White Sox (26-34) still have lost 10 of their last 12 and are already being viewed as a team that won't be a factor when the playoff races start heating up.

Having been in almost the exact situation, LaRussa cautioned against pulling the plug too early.

"I mean, one of the beauties of the season is it's six months," said LaRussa, who was at the Cell on Saturday for an '83 reunion. "If you are good -- and they are good enough -- they have plenty of time. You just can't get discouraged and you can't try to fix it all in one day. Just do the thing right bit by bit and it gets better. It's a test over six months. They have a great attitude here. Good coaching staff. (Manager) Robin (Ventura) is solid. They will be fine."

Since the start of the season, the White Sox have had serious offensive issues. They've also made a rash of fielding mistakes, been hard hit by injuries and haven't gotten much from the front end of the bullpen.

Ventura was back home in California on Thursday and Friday for his daughter's graduation.

Apparently, Ventura heard general manager Rick Hahn is preparing to sell off valuable players like Jesse Crain and Alex Rios. And, apparently, Ventura heard he wasn't interested in managing a team through a rebuilding phase.

The Sox' second-year manager was back in the dugout Saturday and insists he's in it for the long haul -- or at least until his contract expires after the 2014 season.

"I think there's, for one reason or another, a whisper that because it's going like this I'm not going to come back," Ventura said. "That's the furthest thing from the truth. For me, I'm in it for as long as I'm in it and then you go from there.

"A situation like this, I would be ashamed to walk away just because it's tough. I think that's part of being in it with these guys. I'm here as much as they are as far as turning it around and being ready to go."

There has been little, if any, panic in the White Sox' clubhouse so far, and LaRussa says that's an encouraging sign.

"We were a little concerned," LaRussa said of the slow start in 1983. "But sometimes when you struggle, that's when teams fall apart. They start pointing fingers. We just stayed closed, stayed close and kept competing and pretty soon they got it straight. Then we started rolling. I think that was a nice test of our tightness. It can get away from you in a hurry if you aren't careful. They refused to not come together."

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