The White Sox rapidly changed the narrative Monday evening, ripping through a furious ninth-inning rally to beat Cleveland, 4-3. Seven consecutive hitters reached base off Indians closer Cody Allen, the last of whom was Melky Cabrera, whose deep fly ball plopped into the left-center field grass at U.S. Cellular Field for a walk-off single.
Without that comeback, the storyline would’ve been about another listless performance by the White Sox lineup and a team that continued to underperform expectations, even only 12 games into the season. Instead, the scene after the game featured a jubilant White Sox clubhouse and a jovial manager.
For a team that added three big-name players in the winter and touted legitimate playoff aspirations heading into the 2015 season, Ventura knows the criticism surrounding his decisions will be heightened. That turned out to be the case last week when Adam Eaton failed to lay down a bunt with two strikes Wednesday in Cleveland and the club ran into some confusion in failing to challenge a controversial play in Saturday’s defeat in Detroit.
“That goes with the territory, that’s part of the job,” Ventura said before Monday’s game. “The focus for me is what we’re doing and how to make it better and turn it around. Stuff on the outside is always going to be there regardless. Even if we’re winning there will be criticism and things like that. The focus is in here and trying to turn it around, not kind of the outside stuff.”
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When asked if the organization was pleased with Ventura as its manager, general manger Rick Hahn said that “absolutely” was the case.
“I get it. It’s part of the nature of the gig,” Hahn said. “There’s an in-game strategy element that everyone — and it’s part of the great part of the game that everyone at home, everyone in the paper or on the radio, whatever — can have an opinion on and perhaps have a better point of view than the manager in the heat of the moment. There is also a personnel-management side of the game that most people aren’t privy to.”
Hahn said the White Sox haven’t lost sight of their big-picture view that Ventura is a good manager of the personalities in the clubhouse. There will be disagreements with the minutiae of the job throughout the season, Hahn said, but he added that’s the case with any front office-manager relationship.
The White Sox have confidence in Ventura to stay the course with the roster he has. It took eight innings Monday night, but the fourth-year manager’s faith paid off.
“You sit there and think things through and different things you could do to either relieve stress or get a guy going,” Ventura said. “We do a lot of those things, kicking it around, but in the end the trust is in these guys and what they can do.”