White Sox

Rick Hahn says Robin Ventura will return to White Sox in 2016


Rick Hahn says Robin Ventura will return to White Sox in 2016

Robin Ventura is back as White Sox manager in 2016 but a different staff will surround him.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn announced Friday afternoon that Ventura would return for a fifth season. However, the White Sox dismissed bench coach Mark Parent late Thursday night and also are in search of an assistant hitting coach as Harold Baines plans to step down to become a club ambassador.

As they wrap up their third straight losing season and have missed the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons, Hahn said all changes have been considered, including a managerial change. In spite of the team’s recent failures and a fan base that took to social media on Friday to voice its frustration, Hahn the White Sox are confident they made the right choice with Ventura.

“If we didn't feel as an organization that Robin had the ability to be a championship-caliber manager, he wouldn't be here,” Hahn said. “If we felt we didn't have a championship caliber hitting coach, he wouldn't be here.

“The people who wear this the most, the people who lose the sleep over this as much as anybody, the people who on a daily basis feel as passionately about it as our fans do, want the same things that our fans do.”

[MORE: Sox dismiss Parent as bench coach]

Saying they sought a new voice on the bench, Hahn disclosed that Parent learned after Thursday’s loss to the Kansas City Royals his contract wouldn’t be renewed. Parent was well regarded as a manager during his two seasons in the Philadelphia Phillies organization (2010-11) before he joined Ventura’s staff in 2012. He is the second coach of Ventura’s to be dismissed, joining hitting coach Jeff Manto who was fired at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

Rather than wait until after the season to inform Parent by phone, Ventura wanted to deliver the news in person.

“It’s a tough day because he’s a friend and it didn’t work out,” Ventura said. “I didn’t feel (a phone call) was fair to him.”

During his opening statement, Hahn tied Parent’s dismissal in with the club’s performance -- something Hahn admits many people have had a hand in. Full of high expectations after an active offseason, the White Sox never found any kind of rhythm in 2015 aside from a red-hot week in late July that prevented them from trading Jeff Samardzija.

[ALSO: How Jose Abreu made history]

Though they infused nearly $140 million in talent into the roster this season and acquired Samardzija, the offense struggled until it was too late, the defense hasn’t been consistent, the base running has been poor and the starting rotation hasn’t been as good as they hoped.

“It is unfortunate how we have played out on the field is having these repercussions for him personally,” Hahn said. “But we did get to the point where we think it is important to add a different voice to our coaching staff.”

Despite Ventura’s 295-350 record, Hahn didn’t feel a managerial change was necessary. Hahn backed Ventura because of his communication skills, the environment he has created and his open-minded nature and still believes he has room for improvement, something he hopes to see from throughout the organization.

“Robin's strengths is in that communication and in the environment he creates with those players, to allow them to maximize their abilities,” Hahn said. “Again, there is room for improvement, both from a tactical standpoint as well as from even off the field standpoint, and Robin's aware of that and he's embracing the opportunity to show that improvement, just as the rest of us who need to improve, myself included.”

Ventura thinks the White Sox have already made some of those improvements but agrees more is needed. He also reiterated how much passion he has for the job and the desire he has to get the White Sox back in contention.

“It’s communication, it’s continuing to grind on things, the fundamental things that I know some of it doesn’t look like we were there, but I feel we’ve gotten better at it as the season went along,” Ventura said. “Nobody takes it harder than we do. When you are putting the uniform on, you go through a grind and the season is a difficult thing to go through. And we are doing it 24 hours per day. It’s not just the hours we are here during the game. I grew up a White Sox person. I became an adult as a White Sox. So it’s important to me. I take it personal and it’s hard especially when it goes like this. Nobody wants this to turn around as much as I do.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'


Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one


Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.