White Sox

Sox Drawer: Ventura has believers in Lasorda, Torre

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Sox Drawer: Ventura has believers in Lasorda, Torre

NASHVILLE, Tenn -- When Robin Ventura became the manager of the Chicago White Sox without any managing or even coaching experience in baseball, he received some advice from a man who managed 3,040 major league games in his legendary career.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda.

Before the season, I told him, Take a picture now, Lasorda said. "Then I want to take a picture of you when the season is over, and its going to be a big difference. If you dont win its a big difference.

For most of the season, Ventura and the White Sox did win. They were in first place until September 25th. That might have helped Venturas mental health, as well as the hair on the top of his head.

I still have it, so Im alright, Ventura said Tuesday.

But when the White Sox proceeded to lose 11 of their last 15 games, and missed the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion, any normal manager would be an emotional wreck, fraught with grief and inner turmoil.

Just ask Lasorda.

When I was a manager, I would walk the streets until 3 o'clock in the morning, Lasorda said. A lot of times I wouldnt take the bus after we lost afraid I would attack some of those players. But here I am walking the streets at 3 oclock in the morning and theyre out dancing somewhere. That doesnt go together.

Joe Torre managed 4,308 games, won four World Series, lost two others, and dropped 1,990 games during the regular season.

Name the experience as a manager, Torre has likely seen it, and felt it.

What the White Sox experienced late in the year was devastating, Torre said. Ive seen clubs go through it. I was lucky in 2000 because we lost 15 of the last 18 and won the World Series. Ventura got eeked out by the Detroit club that struggled all year long. But Robin I thought did a good job with anything that went on. Hes going to use what he felt surprised him and use that to his advantage because hes not going to bemoan the fact that this didnt happen. Hes going to learn from it.

On the outside, Ventura remained calm and cool during last seasons collapse. But what was happening on the inside? Safe to say it was devastating to Ventura?

I guess you could say that, Ventura revealed in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. But its not something you cant come back from. Its disappointing because you work so hard to put yourself in the position to win the division and it doesnt happen. But in sports, nothing is guaranteed. Again, you prepare and get ready again and gear up and go after it again.

Hidden behind Venturas relaxed demeanor is a fiery competitor who wants to win as much as every manager in the game--a temper that was on display when he was actually ejected from games last season.

I was happy to see him get mad a number of times, Torre said with a smile. You say, Look how cool and relaxed he is. I was that guy at one time.

Thats a part of the job, Ventura explained. Anytime youre competing, things are hot and heavy. It happens. Thats a part of the passion of the game and what you do as a player and as a manager. It happens. It will probably happen again.

So after completing his first season as manager of the White Sox, is there one specific area with his team hed like to improve?

Yeah, Ventura said. Id like to get 10 more wins in September.

Meet the Prospects: A.J. Puckett

Meet the Prospects: A.J. Puckett

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

A.J. Puckett

Puckett, the 22-year-old right-handed hurler, came over in one of Rick Hahn's lower-profile moves last summer. While trades with the Cubs and New York Yankees brought back high-profile prospects like Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Blake Rutherford, an under-the-radar July move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals fetched Puckett and left-handed pitcher Andre Davis to bolster the rebuilding effort.

A California native, Puckett was a second-round pick of the Royals in the 2016 draft. He made 11 starts at Class A Lexington in 2016, posting a 3.66 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 51.2 innings of work. Prior to last summer's trade, Puckett made 20 starts for Class A Wilmington, turning in a 3.90 ERA to go with 98 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. After joining the White Sox organization, he made five starts at Class A Winston-Salem, where he had a 4.28 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Puckett rated as the No. 23 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Puckett in the video above.

Meet the Prospects: Blake Rutherford

Meet the Prospects: Blake Rutherford

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

Blake Rutherford

Rutherford, the 20-year-old outfielder, was the highest-rated piece of the return package that came back to the White Sox in the seven-player deal that sent Todd Frazier, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to the New York Yankees last summer.

A California native, Rutherford was the 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft. After only playing rookie ball post-draft in 2016, he played 71 games with Class A Charleston last year before the trade, slashing .281/.342/.391 with 20 doubles and 30 RBIs to go along with a pair of home runs. After the trade, Rutherford played in 30 games with Class A Kannapolis, slashing .213/.289/.254 with 26 hits and 13 walks.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Rutherford rated as the No. 4 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Rutherford in the video above.