As a third baseman for the White Sox, Robin Ventura played next to shortstop Ozzie Guillen from 1989-97. The infielders became close friends and remain so today.
As for their personalities, they've always been polar opposites, with Ventura being more calm and quiet and Guillen more hyper and loud.
Ventura is preparing for his third season as Sox manager, and he replaced Guillen, who was in the dugout from 2004-11.
During a question-and-answer session Saturday at SoxFest, a fan inquired if Ventura "had a pulse … when the wheels came off" during a 99-loss season last year. He also pointed out that Guillen led the White Sox to the 2005 World Series championship.
Ventura shrugged it off, as he often does, and moved on.
"It's part of the job," Ventura said. "Even as a player, there is criticism. Not everybody likes every tactic or every style. Everybody will have an opinion about it."
After Ventura assured the inquisitive fan he indeed had a pulse, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stepped up in defense of his manager, who was awarded a multiyear contract extension Friday.
"I didn't think it was Robin's place to have to explain how passionate he is," Hahn said. "Those of us who are around him and see what he does on a daily basis and the amount of energy and time he puts in and have the benefit of seeing that passion behind closed doors, I think it was important for me as one of those people to make that clear.
"I get that as a fan, when things aren't going well, it makes you feel better if you see people caring as much in uniform as you care when you are watching it at home or at the ballpark.
"I just think it's important for people to understand that what he does behind closed doors displays that level of passion, fire and discipline that you want to see and, quite frankly, although it's not satisfying perhaps from a fan standpoint, we want that handled behind closed doors."
The addition of first baseman Jose Abreu has moved Adam Dunn into a likely platoon situation with Paul Konerko at designated hitter. As it stands now, the left-handed hitting Dunn will be in the lineup against right-handed starting pitchers, with Konerko getting the nod against lefties.
"Whatever (it take) to win, I don't care," Dunn said Saturday at SoxFest. "The good news is there are no egos, especially with me and Paul. We talked about it when he was making his decision (to play one more season). Whatever is going to help us win that night, I know he's for it and I'm for it. That to me is a nonissue."
Even though it might cost him playing time, Dunn said he talked to Konerko several times and urged him to come back for another year.
"It made me feel pretty good that Paul really wanted to make sure we were all on the same page with it," said Dunn, who is entering the final season of a four-year, $56 million contract. "I couldn't express enough how much, A: We need him back and, B: It's not going to affect anything. If he's hot, let him roll. Whatever helps us win, I'm in."
Paul Konerko is looking forward to helping his younger White Sox teammates more than he has in the past. Earlier this month, Konerko attended a minicamp held by new hitting coach Todd Steverson at the Sox' spring-training base in Glendale, Ariz.
"I was just there for two days," said Konerko, who is retiring at the end of the year. "It was really low key. Once the season starts, you don't know. Everyone's envisioning having a great season, but once the season starts, this guy goes this way, that guy … you never know how it's going to go."