White Sox

Robin Ventura steps down as White Sox manager

Robin Ventura steps down as White Sox manager

He doesn’t have any regrets, but Robin Ventura announced the end of his tenure as White Sox manager on Sunday afternoon.

Calling it a personal decision, Ventura stepped down as White Sox manager shortly after his team closed his fifth season with a 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. Ventura — who finished with a 375-435 record and finished below .500 in four straight seasons — said he thought the club might be in need of a new voice. The team is expected to name current bench coach Rick Renteria its new manager in a press conference on Monday at 11 a.m.

“I just feel it’s the right time,” Ventura said. “I love being here. The organization means a lot to me. You can go as hard as you can and really the only thing you know is how you conduct your business and how you treat people. I’m good with that. 

“Talking to (general manager Rick Hahn) through September, you just realize right now is the right time to do it and you need somebody else.”

Ventura’s final season as White Sox manager will likely be remembered for several high-profile incidents that took place within the clubhouse, namely the abrupt and public retirement of Adam LaRoche and Chris Sale’s five-game suspension for destruction of team property. While those incidents may have caused him some stress, Ventura said it was the team’s collapse after a 23-10 start that was the most difficult to deal with. Ravaged by key injuries, underperformance and a lack of depth to handle those issues, the White Sox fell apart in mid-May and never recovered.

“What's hardest is we started off so well, so you had the optimism that was there that you were going to keep that rolling and then it didn't continue,” Ventura said. “That's the hardest stuff. The other stuff, it just happens. There's probably stuff that happens all over the place that's like that. But that had nothing to do it with being tougher.”

Though he made the determination he wouldn’t return over the course of September, Ventura held off on an announcement until after the season concluded. Ventura said he wanted his players’ focus to remain on the field where it belonged and didn’t want to detract from that. Ventura addressed his team prior to Sunday’s game to inform them of his decision.

“You have that thing you grow up with from your parents that when you start something you do it,” Ventura said. “If you get fired, that’s one thing. But I knew I was going to finish what I signed up to do. And I did that.”

Ventura has no plans to take another job within the organization and for now has no designs to manage again. Once questioned whether or not he wanted to be the team’s manager, Ventura said he’d say “yes again” if he had to do it all over. Ventura lamented the lack of team victories but enjoyed the job.

“You just do what you can do and how you conduct yourself,” Ventura said. “It’s not like they’re going to be building a statue or putting a statue out on the concourse. You do what you can and that’s all you can really do.”

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

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USA TODAY

White Sox sign Enoy Jimenez, the 17-year-old brother of Eloy Jimenez

One Jimenez just isn't enough for the White Sox.

The White Sox signed the younger brother of top prospect Eloy Jimenez this weekend. Enoy Jimenez is a 17-year-old infielder, and the 21-year-old outfielder ranked as the No. 3 prospect in baseball was on hand for his brother's big moment.

Eloy figures to hit the big leagues early next season, though it will likely be a while longer before his teenage brother could do the same. Still, they're likely hoping for the chance to play together one day.

According to this pretty exhaustive list from MLB.com, four sets of brothers have played together on the White Sox: Homer and Ted Blankenship in the 1920s, Dick and Hank Allen in the 1970s, Roberto and Sandy Alomar in 2003 and 2004 and John and Jordan Danks in 2012.

Should we be getting ready for the fifth pair?

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

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USA TODAY

Matt Davidson's incredibly interesting 2018

This season, Matt Davidson became the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in a season opener. It definitely raised a few eyebrows, especially after Paul Konerko noted during spring training that a 40-home run season and an All-Star selection isn’t out of the question for the California native. After clobbering nine home runs (seven of them coming at Kauffman Stadium) in his first 21 games, anything seemed possible.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way, though he did rack up his second straight 20-homer season. But it’s hard to argue that 2018 wasn’t a success for Davidson — mostly because of the swings he didn’t make.

Everything else aside, Davidson walked as often as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in 2018.

OK, the more meaningful comparison would be Davidson to himself.

What stands out is his walk rate. One hundred fifty three players had at least 400 plate appearances in both 2017 and 2018. Among them, Davidson had the second-highest increase in walk percentage this past season.

Consider this: In 2017, Davidson and Tim Anderson became (and still are) the only players in MLB history with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 20 walks in a season.

Davidson, while logging 20 more at-bats in 2018, had the same number of strikeouts, 165, but he increased his walk total from 19 to 52. Give him credit for that. It’s a tough adjustment to make at the minor league level let alone in the major leagues. The increased walk rate brought his on-base percentage from .260 in 2017 (well below the AL average of .324) to .319 in 2018 (a tick above the AL average of .318) and pushed his overall offensive production from 16 percent below league average (as measured by his 84 weighted runs created plus, or wRC+) to four percent above league average (104 wRC+).

And I haven’t even mentioned the most fun aspect of his 2018 season: He pitched! And he pitched well.

Thirty pitchers took the mound for the White Sox in 2018, all of whom made at least three appearances. And only one of them didn’t allow a run: Davidson.

He topped out at 91.9 MPH and had as many strikeouts, two, as baserunners allowed in his three innings of work. The two batters he struck out, Rougned Odor and Giancarlo Stanton, combined for 56 home runs in 2018. They combined for 89 home runs (and an MVP award) in 2017.

In his career, Stanton had a combined 16 plate appearances and zero strikeouts against Barry Zito, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Edwin Díaz. He struck out in his one plate appearance against Davidson.

Davidson is one of just three players with 20 or more home runs and at least three mound appearances in a season in MLB history:

— Babe Ruth (1919): 29 home runs, 17 games on the mound
— Davidson (2018): 20 home runs, three games on the mound
— Shohei Ohtani (2018): 22 home runs, 10 games on the mound

Facts are facts. Davidson is actually serious about expanding his role on the mound.

“To be honest, I would love to maybe explore that idea,” he said in July. “Pitching was a dream. As a young kid, everybody wants to hit that walk-off homer, right? I was the guy striking that guy out. That’s how I first loved the game. My favorite player was Randy Johnson and doing that.

“So, it’s something I would be interested in. I don’t know if the game would necessarily allow that or something like that. It’s something that is really close to my heart is pitching.”

Whether or not it ever happens, Davidson’s 2018 was all about finding ways to increase his value. For the White Sox, that’s a good problem to have.