White Sox

Sox Drawer: The Ventura decision

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Sox Drawer: The Ventura decision

VIDEO: Ventura ready for the job

For the last week, there were rumblings coming out of U.S. Cellular Field that the name of the new White Sox manager was going to surprise everyone.

Who could this mystery person be?

Carlton Fisk? Tony Pena? Bill Melton?? Hawk Harrelson???

The White Sox kept their decision an ancient Chinese secret. Nobody had a clue.

But then came the announcement late Thursday afternoon: the next skipper of the Chicago White Sox is Robin Ventura.

Sorry to disappoint those in the front office, we werent surprised at all. Shocked, stunned and completely stupefied would probably be more accurate. Absolutely nobody saw this coming.

But Kenny Williams did. Years ago.

While Ventura played third base for the White Sox in the mid-90s, Williams was working for the team in player development. He says that during the five seasons before he became general manager he was actually interviewing Ventura all along.

He just didnt know it, Williams said.

When it came time for him to assemble a list of candidates to replace Ozzie Guillen, Williams says that rumored front-runners (and former White Sox players) Dave Martinez and Sandy Alomar Jr. were a part of the discussions.

Let me assure you, when we went down the list we looked at all of the guys, all the names that you've heard about and read about, we've looked at all of them, Williams said Thursday on Chicago Tribune Live.

But through it all, Venturas name kept popping off the page.

During a recent meeting with Jerry Reinsdorf, Williams brought up Venturas name as a possibility. At first, the Chairman smiled and said, interesting. Ventura had never managed before, and had just recently joined the White Sox front office in June as a special assistant to Buddy Bell, the teams director of player development.

He seemed like a long-shot, a wild card, just like another guy the team hired to manage the team in 2004: Ozzie Guillen.

After thinking it over that night, Reinsdorf told Williams the next day that he agreed with his decision about Ventura saying, I now know exactly why you brought his name to the forefront.

From there, the wheels went in motion. Ventura was their guy.

So what is it about Ventura that makes him the right fit, not only as White Sox manager, but as a manager period?

This isn't your average bird, Williams said. This guy comes with confidence, but if you ever had one conversation with him you understand that there's a certain humility, a certain regular guy, dry sense of humor. But at the same time he's got some toughness behind it, and will get on you in a way that doesn't demoralize you, in a way that doesn't sound so critical that you can't perform.

"He's a guy that will come in and have a positive affect on the young guys trying to establish themselves in the major leagues, while at the same time some of our veteran guys who are trying to rediscover themselves," Williams went on to say. "He's been there.

If Ventura never seemed to have that burning desire to become a big league manager, should that be held against him?

I say no, just as long as he still has the same desire to win like he did as a player. This being the team that drafted him and played him in 1,254 games during his White Sox career, my guess is that Ventura will do everything in his power not to let Reinsdorf and Williams down.

Im not one to back away, Ventura said when asked about his decision to become manager. The passion was there to do it, and Im honored to have the opportunity to do it. The White Sox care about me and my family. That was big in my decision. I realize that I havent managed, but this is the organization that is going to give me the support to do the job.

Being a first-time manager, who Ventura picks as his bench coach might be the next most important hire. Ventura has found a candidate, someone who is already a bench coach on a major league team. The White Sox are expected to ask the candidates team for permission to contact him on Friday.

As for his hitting coach, White Sox legend Frank Thomas told Comcast SportsNet Ill definitely listen if the Sox called. Williams revealed on Chicago Tribune Live that the Big Hurts name has already been brought up in conversations.

I have talked about that with Robin and because we've had so much growth within our system and we got so many young players as well as guys trying to rebound, we are probably going to stay within the organization, Williams said. We've still got to have some conversations on it and whether or not Frank is spoken to about or not, that'll be Robin's choice at the time. But I'm thinking initially, because we have history with some of our young players that have now come through and have performed well, we'll probably stick with that. But Frank will undoubtedly be welcomed to add any advice he has and he'll be part of the family because he is who he is and he's got a lot to offer.

In case Ventura doesnt succeed as manager, believe it or not, his replacement might already be lurking inside the White Sox clubhouse. Just like Ventura had no clue he was on Williams radar in the 1990s, this player probably doesnt realize it either.

As I'd freely admit right now, Paul Konerko can be a major league manager just because I've had 10 years worth of conversations with Paul Konerko, Williams said. And as a result, I've come to the conclusion that this guy certainly has the necessary stuff. He's a little busy right now, you know, becoming an MVP. But one day he too will hopefully be considered if he wants to do it along the same line. This might be out of left field or a surprise, but to people who are within the organization, not so much.

Cant say Im surprised. After the Ventura announcement, very little will.

Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox slugger Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

Reported promotion of Zack Collins adds another piece to White Sox rebuilding puzzle

The White Sox rebuilding puzzle is getting closer to completion.

Zack Collins is reportedly en route to the major leagues, according to a report from Miami talk-show host Andy Slater. That adds another one of the White Sox highly rated prospects to the growing list of them at the big league level as the franchise’s contention window looks set to open relatively soon.


Collins was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, selected with the No. 10 pick that year out of the University of Miami. Currently ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the farm system, he’s always been praised for his offensive abilities. Last season at Double-A Birmingham, he finished the year with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers, also winning the Home Run Derby at the Southern League All-Star Game.

In 48 games with Triple-A Charlotte this season, Collins owns a .258/.382/.497 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 38 RBIs and 35 walks.

Collins has been lauded as a big bat, but there have been questions about other parts of his game as he’s risen through the system. From the day he was drafted, there were questions about his defensive ability, leading to speculation that he might one day end up at a position besides catcher. He’s also racked up the strikeouts in the minors, with 396 of them in 322 games over his four minor league seasons.

But the White Sox haven’t wavered in their confidence that Collins can be a big league catcher, and it looks like that’s the position he’ll fill should the White Sox call him up before the start of next week’s Crosstown series with the Cubs. Welington Castillo was removed from Sunday’s loss to the New York Yankees with back tightness. The team said Castillo will be reevaluated on Monday. With this report of Collins’ promotion, it looks like Castillo could be headed to the injured list.

Another top prospect reaching the majors adds another tangible example of rebuilding progress. Fans have been clamoring for the promotions of Dylan Cease and Luis Robert all season long, and while Collins might be a little further down in the rankings than those two, this should still please fans who, even in a season filled with positives, want to see a more rapid advancement toward the rebuild’s ultimate goal.

Collins will perhaps benefit from a lack of pressure, what with James McCann in the midst of a potentially All-Star season as the White Sox primary catcher. The White Sox could perhaps continue to lean on McCann, allowing Collins to ease into the major leagues.

But just like Michael Kopech last August and Eloy Jimenez in March, Collins’ mere arrival is a step forward in this process, one that should please fans immensely.

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Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

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USA TODAY

Yoan Moncada continues battle with back issues

Yoan Moncada's battle with his back issues might not be as over as we thought.

The third baseman made his return to the White Sox starting lineup Sunday following a four-game layoff due to a mild back strain. But his return didn't last long. After a fourth-inning strikeout in his second plate appearance of the 10-3 loss to the visiting New York Yankees, Moncada was removed from the game with what the team announced as upper back tightness.

Moncada is described as day to day. The White Sox have an off day Monday ahead of the start of a two-game Crosstown series at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night.

"He's doing good. I think I'm not the only one who noticed his grimace in the swing. It made no sense to continue to expose him to that," manager Rick Renteria said after Sunday's game. "All indications are he should be ready to go on Tuesday.

"Didn't seem to put him in any predicament. Hopefully it didn't set him back. All indications are that hopefully he'll be back on Tuesday."

Moncada was removed from Monday's game against the Washington Nationals with what was initially described as back spasms. Renteria updated the verbiage to a back strain in the following days. Moncada missed Tuesday's game against the Nationals, went through a Wednesday off day and then missed the first three games of the four-game weekend set with the Yankees. His return lasted all of four innings Sunday before he was taken out again.

"Just watching the swing, watching the finish, which is what I was concerned with, getting through the ball. He's ready to get through the ball, it's just the finish. He's feeling a little something there," Renteria said. "You can't replicate it in any drill work. We've tried to do it. Everything he did was good. All the work he did was good.

"Everything we tried to do to replicate it, it wasn't existent until you get into the game, then you know. That's why I think it was a good — I don't know if you want to call it a test, but it was a test. We wanted to see where he was at. Didn't make any sense to continue to push him. Get him ready and calm it down and get him ready for the series against the North Siders."

Moncada wasn't the only White Sox hitter removed from Sunday's game. Welington Castillo, who was the designated hitter, was taken out with what the team announced as lower back tightness. Renteria confirmed after the game that Castillo's injury came on his swing in the second inning, a line drive off the center-field wall that ended up as only a single. Castillo will be reevaluated during the off day Monday.

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