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.