Robin Ventura still isn’t talking amid reports he’ll step down as White Sox manager and Rick Renteria has been tabbed to replace him.
During Saturday’s 6-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Ventura would quit after the season concludes Sunday and that Renteria is expected to be named the club’s new manager at a Monday press conference. The White Sox announced they would hold a press conference Monday at 11 a.m.
Through a club official, general manager Rick Hahn deferred comment until Monday’s announcement. Same as he did earlier in the week, Ventura declined to talk about his status after Saturday’s loss.
“We’ve been over this,” Ventura said. “I’ll talk at the end of the year. We’ll talk about tonight. I’ve been pretty consistent with that. There can be whatever out there. For right now, just talking about tonight.
“I haven’t talked to (players) about anything. We’re still playing. All the conversations I have with them are about playing. …
“Nothing has changed with that.”
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There has been plenty of speculation about Ventura’s future since the White Sox took a nose dive after their hot start. Once a surprising 23-10 on the heels of a spring training disrupted by the Adam LaRoche saga, the White Sox are assured of a fourth consecutive sub-.500 finish and an eighth consecutive season without a postseason appearance.
The team’s slide began in mid-May and Ventura, who was temporarily removed from hot seat chatter after the club’s strong start, once again faced criticism in June and July.
The White Sox had seen it all by July — from LaRoche’s abrupt retirement after a dispute with management to Chris Sale’s five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property — and the fanbase was upset. Calls for Ventura’s head from a group of fans that booed him at SoxFest in January 2014 only grew louder.
But Hahn refused to place blame for the poor performance on Ventura and suggested the franchise had been mired in mediocrity in a constant attempt to plug holes and win now. Though he acknowledged the franchise might face tough decisions after the season, Hahn suggested that were Ventura to depart, he would do so amicably. A Wednesday USA Today report suggested the White Sox hoped to retain Ventura if he wanted to return. But the fifth-year manager declined to address the topic until after the season ends.
Third baseman Todd Frazier seemed surprised about Ventura’s status, but refused to speculate.
“I didn’t see anything like that,” Frazier said. “That’s news to me.
“I love Robin. I love him to death. He’s a good manager, for sure.
“Rick (Renteria is) a great guy, man. He’s bilingual, which is great. He’s been a manager before. But like I said, it’s not my right to say anything.”
The White Sox hired Renteria last November to be their bench coach after they dismissed Mark Parent following a disappointing 2015 season.
Renteria has one previous season managing for the 2014 Cubs, who finished 73-89. Renteria was replaced by current manager Joe Maddon after the season and sat out the 2015 campaign.
Prior to his stint with the Cubs, Renteria, whose hands-on style made him popular with White Sox players this past spring, was the San Diego Padres’ bench coach from 2011-13. He also served as the team’s first-base coach from 2008-10.
“Rick is great,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He brings a lot of energy and is always prepared, makes sure his guys are prepared. He knows what he’s doing, knows what he’s talking about. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m sure you guys will know before we do.”
Ventura heads into Sunday’s finale with a career mark of 375-434 in five seasons.
The final two seasons of Ventura’s tenure have been disappointing amid high expectations.
Despite the signings of Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche, David Robertson and Zach Duke and trades for Jeff Samardzija, Frazier and Brett Lawrie, among others, the White Sox have been weighed down by depth issues and weren’t a factor in the pennant race in either 2015 or 2016.
Hired in the wake of a very public breakup with Ozzie Guillen, Ventura was named the 39th manager in franchise history on Oct. 6, 2011 even though he had no prior managerial experience.
With his even-keeled nature, Ventura’s popularity quickly soared with players, who cited his calm demeanor as one reason the 2012 White Sox surprised the league and spent 117 days in first place only to collapse down the stretch and finish behind the AL-pennant winning Detroit Tigers.
The team’s 85-77 record in Ventura’s first season as manager was his only winning record. The club finished in second place in the American League Central that season and Ventura finished third in voting for the AL manager of the year.
“He’s one of the better managers I’ve been around, and I’ve been around some really good ones,” pitcher James Shields said. “To be honest with you, that’s the first time I’m hearing this. But Robin is a good man, a good manager. He’s really good with the players, and if he does step down, he’s going to be sadly missed for sure.”