White Sox

How Ventura's approach leads to White Sox success

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How Ventura's approach leads to White Sox success

Theres a new man at the helm this season and the White Sox have taken notice. Or perhaps its what they no longer notice.

Before they poured out of the home clubhouse on Sunday afternoon, headed for various locales to recuperate during the All-Star break, White Sox players praised rookie manager Robin Ventura for how he has handled the clubhouse.

Whereas players were subjected to the fiery, passionate personality of former manager Ozzie Guillen the previous eight seasons, now they play under the more mild-mannered ways of Ventura.

Several veterans believe Venturas approach has played a large part in the White Sox surprising start.

Expected to underwhelm and eventually trade off parts to the highest bidder, the White Sox have been one of baseballs biggest surprises over the seasons first three months. Those veterans feel the way Ventura evenly manages the club, which begins the second half with a 47-38 record and a three-game lead in the American League Central, will pay dividends down the stretch.

It has a different feel and it had that from spring training, starting pitcher Jake Peavy said. Robin and his staff, just a different personality. Thats all there is to it. Thats not saying that Ozzies (staff) was bad. They did amazing things. But Robins very laidback and quiet and Ozzie is very outspoken.

Whereas Guillen, who owned a .524 winning percentage and led the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005, is brash, his former teammate prefers to lay low and pick his spots. First baseman Paul Konerko said the style works because players are smart enough to realize their new manager only speaks when he has a purpose.

Hes not a yeller or a screamer, Konerko said. Hes not overmanaging or anything like that. He trusts his players. But I think he set the tone early that, Im not going to talk a lot, but when I talk, its important and everybody listen. He can be stern if he wants to. But I think everybody respects him and nobody wants to force his hand in that nature.

Adam Dunn appreciates Ventura on several levels.

He said Ventura still connects with players who recognize their rookie managers career only ended in 2004. Dunn said Ventura remembers how players feel and his ability to relate goes a long way in the clubhouse.

He understands, Dunn said. Hes not so far removed from us as players to where he forgot or he doesnt remember how it feels. Hell say stuff on the bench and its like, Yeah, thats exactly what Im feeling, or You nailed it. Thats awesome.

Dunn also likes how Venturas personality is the same, win or lose. An All-Star this season, Dunn said the managerial style is important because of baseballs streaky nature. He also thinks Venturas even-keel personality should benefit a team, which currently features 10 rookies.

Dunn expects there will never be outrageous highs or lows with Ventura calling the shots.

You just know what youre getting each and every day, Dunn said. If youre struggling, he treats you the same as if youre hitting .400 with 18 home runs. He keeps it. Thats good for the young guys.

Konerko said the new staffs attitude also brings out the best in he and his teammates. Hes pleased with the effort level put forth by him and his teammates over the first half and believes Venturas staff has given them reason to continue to repeat the process.

Everybody wants to show up and play for him, Konerko said. That goes for all of our coaches. Theres early work every day and hitting. Theres all kinds of stuff going on every day thats not fun to do in 100-degree heat or 90-degree heat or cold at the beginning of the year. There has been a lot of that so a lot of credit goes to the coaching staff.

Peavy admits the winning has helped. The team has also received strong contributions from himself, Dunn and outfielder Alex Rios, all whom struggled in 2011 and earn roughly 44 percent of the teams 97.7 million payroll. Peavy just hopes the teams winning ways continue.

Its been a nice change, Peavy said. Weve played very well for Robin and we hope to in the second half and get it done for him.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

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AP

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.