MINNEAPOLIS -- The game was lost and Robin Ventura was showered with boos when he left the dugout in the ninth inning Thursday to request a review.
The White Sox manager said he’d make the same move every time as long as he believes the call is incorrect. Even so, he made a fan of White Sox second baseman Micah Johnson, who was called out at first base. Had he been safe, and replays made it look close, though the call was upheld, Johnson would have finished 3-for-3 with a walk.
“I can’t say enough how much I respect and admire Robin for reviewing that play for me,” Johnson said. “Obviously it is 12-2, but Robin reviewed it for me. That’s awesome. That speaks volumes. That’s the first thing I thought about, how appreciative I was that he would review that play for me.”
Johnson brings a .271 average and a .340 on-base percentage into Friday’s game. With Adam Eaton out sick, Johnson has been moved into the leadoff spot. He feels much more comfortable than he did a month ago. Johnson also said he has benefitted from Ventura’s calm demeanor.
“He’s great, especially for me as a young guy,” Johnson said. “We’re out there probably five days a week taking groundballs early, and he’s standing there right next to me, talking to me pretty much every groundball. He lets me play my game. If you get out, he’ll come in and pat you as a reassurance. If you get out sometimes, especially when you’re young, you’ll be like ‘Oh man.’ … But he’s right there, and he keeps instilling confidence in you quietly.”
Ventura said he’s seen Johnson make strides. He can see the rookie second baseman’s confidence rise and has seen him start to slow down the game.
“At first he’s trying to impress,” Ventura said. “Once you get to the point where you’re comfortable in your own skin being out there and just playing the game, doing the things that are necessary for that game instead of trying to look too far in the future or looking at the past, you’re just playing for tonight. That’s where he has kind of got right now. He is confident that he’s a big leaguer and you just go from there.”
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Ventura and the White Sox were confident Johnson was safe. That’s why he pushed for the challenge, though what was left of a crowd of 20,736 let him have it for extending a blowout.
“If it was a hit you have to give him a chance,” Ventura said. “Our guys thought it was a hit. You still have to go out there no matter what the score is to help the guy out no matter the call.”