When it comes to baseball supremacy, the names Mark Parent, Joe McEwing, and Jeff Manto probably don't come to mind. Together, the trio combined to hit 109 homers with 423 RBIs in their major league careers. By comparison, their new skipper, Robin Ventura, easily surpassed those numbers on his own with 294 homers and 1,182 RBIs.
But what the new three coaches lacked in playing ability, they made up for with heart, guts and determination.
Want the White Sox to become grinders again? This trio made careers out of it.
"The way you look at the staff put together, especially the new guys coming in, we're all basically the same kind of player -- grinders, not silver spoon-type of players," said Manto, the Sox new hitting coach who spent the last four seasons as the team's minor-league hitting coordinator. "We had to work for everything we got. Some of us got more than the other, some of us got less than the other. We'll bring that to the guys. That's all we know."
Adding three coaches sharing the same lunch pail DNA was not the plan. It just turned out that way.
"It a nice thing to have in there," said Ventura. "With all these guys they can see things differently. They're workers for one, and that's a very important part of a team, to be able to come in and do the work, and be excited to do the work. That's what makes it fun. I think players feel that and understand that."
Ventura played two seasons with McEwing with the Mets in 2000 and 2001. He'll be the new White Sox third base coach.
The first time Robin ever spoke to Parent it was by phone in 1997 after Ventura broke both his leg and ankle sliding into home during a spring training game in Sarasota. Parent was inspired to reach out to him after he experienced a similiar situation tearing an ACL during an intrasquad game with the Rangers in 1991.
"I blew my knee out in Texas and I got a phone call from Jack Clark who was on another team at the time," said Parent, who will be Ventura's bench coach. "It meant a lot to me. So I remember watching Robin (on TV) and he got hurt. I made a phone call to him and told him what I went through, and that he was going to be back."
Adam Dunn will probably like to hear the same advice. After averaging 38 homers and 95 RBIs in a 10-year career, Dunn saw his numbers plummet in his first season with the White Sox, ending up with 11 homers, 42 RBIs, and a .159 batting average which almost qualified as the lowest in modern baseball history.
What can Manto do to turn Dunn's career around?
"Listen to what he has to say," Manto said. "That's all my approach is going to be. What does he have to say? Where does he want to be right now? I'm sure in the past he's had a lot of advice."
Manto will soon be contacting his new Sox hitters, some of whom he worked with in the minor leagues. In his words, he doesn't have any "magic dust" for the guys who struggled last season. Wish he did. But from afar, he sees an offense that has the potential to get back on the highway, even Dunn who drove into a ditch in April, and couldn't find his way out for the rest of the season.
"I don't think he lost anything to be quite honest with you," Manto said. "It's just one of those years that happened. Watching from afar, I don't know exactly what happened, but as we walk into it, the past is the past. That's the beautiful thing about getting this new staff together. We want to move forward."
Sounds like a good slogan for 2012. For everyone.
And don't look back.