Ventura wants White Sox to ignore his status, focus on winning
Having covered major-league baseball for more than two decades, I've seen the signs.
Managers who are in danger of being fired are often too fired up.
They change lineups with seemingly no rhyme or reason. They frequently get ejected from games by umpires. They snap at stupid questions from the media.
In the wake of three straight losing seasons, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura is in danger of being fired. The web site Fansided.com lists Ventura among the top five managers "on the hot seat," and then lists five more managers who could find themselves on that short list with a poor start.
It's the nature of the game, part of the business, you can't fire all 25 players. Ventura understands all of the reasons, and he has been around long enough to know how the game works.
While he might be on White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf's chopping block, Ventura is not showing any of the aforementioned signs of stress.
"If they wanted to (fire me), you would understand it," Ventura said. "But this whole thing doesn't really change for me."
As a major-league player for 16 seasons and the White Sox manager for the past four seasons (297-352), Ventura has rarely -- if ever -- changed.
He's always been able to separate what's happening on the field with what might or might not happen off it.
Even with the added pressure of being in the final year of his Sox contract, don't look for Ventura to suddenly become someone he has never been.
"We know that I have one year left on the contract," Ventura said. "For me, I've never been one to seek more years if it's going to make me feel any better or for the security of it. You come and do your job.
"I think that's part of being in baseball. Even as a player, if you have one year left, come and do your job. Do the best you can and try to enjoy it."
While he might not outwardly show it, Ventura thoroughly enjoys being the manager for the White Sox.
"I'm excited to come here and do it," he said. "But it's always about winning. Do winning things to help the team and that takes care of everything. This year, it (being fired) is there but it's not there. I can joke about it."
Having survived three difficult seasons in a row, Ventura still has the backing of the front office trio of Reinsdorf, vice president Kenny Williams and general manager Rick Hahn.
At the end of last season, Hahn said the blame for another losing record had to be shared.
"I think there's obviously a feeling that we can improve the coaching staff and the support that Robin's getting," Hann said. "There are areas that I've mentioned where Robin needs to improve. But fundamentally, the players didn't achieve at the level that I individually expected them to.
"I put that on me. I don't put that on anybody else. There are areas where I need to improve and get us to the point where we're making the right personnel decisions and guys are living up to the expectations."
Hahn made massive roster changes this off-season, adding three new infielders, two new catchers, a new outfielder and a new starting pitcher.
He also hired former Cubs manager Rick Renteria to replace fired bench coach Mark Parent.
With so many moves, expect even more changes if the White Sox have another losing season.
Ventura remains very popular in the clubhouse, and ace starting pitcher Chris Sale and other players clearly sided with Ventura over Williams in the Adam LaRoche retirement fiasco.
While he appreciated their support, Ventura would prefer that his players keep their minds on winning baseball games.
"I want them to understand it's more about playing right and doing it that way," Ventura said. "That's what we care more about than whether there's a (contract) extension or anything like that. I just don't look at it that way. It's more important for me, for us, to play well because the last couple of years haven't really been that way."
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AL's top managersScot Gregor lists the American League's top managers:
1. John Gibbons, Blue Jays
2. Buck Showalter, Orioles
3. Terry Francona, Indians
12. Robin Ventura, WHITE SOX