White Sox

Despite uncertain future with White Sox, Robin Ventura remains focused on winning games

Despite uncertain future with White Sox, Robin Ventura remains focused on winning games

MIAMI -- Even though he isn’t concerned about his future, Robin Ventura remains committed to the White Sox.

The club’s fifth-year manager said on Sunday morning he still enjoys his job even after a tumultuous season that has included Adam LaRoche’s abrupt retirement and Chris Sale’s five-game suspension for destruction of team property. The comments from Ventura, whose contract expires after this season, come on the heels of a Sun-Times report in which he’d said he like to return as the team’s manager if asked.

Whether or not Ventura would be asked to return is as uncertain as the team’s future direction. Last month, general manager Rick Hahn said the club has been mired in mediocrity and is open to all options. But Ventura reiterated Sunday he’s more worried about the team’s final 46 games than himself even as he has come to appreciate his position over time.

“When you come in here and work as hard as we do, you’re not here this long if you’re doing it as a lark,” Ventura said. “We’ve always taken it seriously of doing the work and getting them in the best spot possible. Sometimes you look around, it goes pretty quick.”

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The White Sox headed into Sunday’s series finale with a 56-60 mark and are far outside looking in at the wild-card race, 7 1/2 games back of the second spot. The team’s .483 winning percentage is the highest it has been since Ventura’s first season when the White Sox went 85-77.

One could argue that 2016 has been the most trying season for Ventura. The White Sox have struggled mightily since their 23-10 start. Not only is the team beset with injuries to several key players, but Ventura has twice found his clubhouse in crisis after LaRoche and Sale both had disputes with management. Ventura said it all comes with the territory.

“You just deal with it,” Ventura said. “That’s part of, you have a lot of high-spirited competitive people in one spot and sometimes it can burst on you at any particular spot and you deal with it and you move on. Having been around baseball, I’ve seen a lot of these. This is not exclusive to us by any means. When you’re a manager, you deal with it and you move on.”

Ventura expects the White Sox would make a quick decision after the season about whether or not to bring him back. But he said he’ll continue to keep his focus on the field until they reach that point.

“I’ve always gone through with where I am and the focus is on these guys and winning games,” Ventura said. “There’s plenty of time to look at it in the offseason. I’ve never felt like there is a reason for either side to have to do something just because I don’t have a contract next year. It doesn’t mean I won’t have one and doesn’t mean I will have one. But you just go through it and do what you’re supposed to do and this is what I’m supposed to do right now.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.