Chicago White Sox: Managing

CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox's rebuild roster hasn't just rejuvenated the fan base, it has put a spring into the step of the coaching staff, as well.

This weekend's SoxFest sold out two weeks in advance and season-ticket purchases are on the rise as the 2015 White Sox look much improved after the moves made by a front office that includes general manager Rick Hahn and executive vice president Kenny Williams.

"Part of it is there has to be a plan there and [Hahn] has to have the guts to pull it off," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Thursday. "You have to have a little bit of luck on how it all lines up. Sometimes guys might not be made available on the year that you are going to do that. It just seemed like every couple of days the ideas that were there right after the season, there were opportunities made available."

Pitching coach Don Cooper was one of the biggest beneficiaries of all the moves as his starting rotation was bolstered with the addition of right-hander Jeff Samardzija. His floundering bullpen from 2014 was improved with the likes of closer David Robertson and left-handers Zach Duke and Dan Jennings.

"When I think of Samardzija, when I think of [Chris] Sale, when I think of [Jose] Quintana and some others, the next thing that I would like to see if we can put on the resume is playoffs," Cooper sad. "What's the next thing for Sale and these guys? Getting into the playoffs, showing the world what they can do. I'm extremely happy to have Jeff Samardzija. He makes us stronger, and any time we get stronger, I'm all for it."

And after a season without a set closer and relievers switching roles nightly, Cooper knows that he has one less worry now when the ninth inning approaches.

"Great move picking up Robertson," Cooper said. "Let me tell you, from sitting on the bench the last two years, and kind of thinking in the fifth or sixth inning, who's closing for us today? That's a question you don’t want to have to go through your mind every day."

As for last year's first-round draft pick (and No. 3 selection overall) Carlos Rodon, the left-hander will be used in spring training as a starter, but the thought of using him as a reliever in 2015 isn't out of the question. Even if he is used as a reliever this year, Cooper said Rodon will be a starter one day.

"Over the phone, I'm an easily excited guy, but just talking to him -– and I haven’t met him face-to-face or seen a ball coming out of his hand –- it makes me think this guy is a quality guy," Cooper said. "If he's half as good on the field as he is on the phone, we're in a pretty good spot."

Ventura and Cooper have been in town in advance of SoxFest this weekend and both are starting to feel the excitement coming from fans. They will start to feel the full force of it come Friday.

"Yeah, it's been fun," Ventura said. "The last couple of years going into SoxFest hasn't quite had this buzz. We've done a couple of things already that fans are excited and I think they should be. Rick has done a great job as far as this offseason of creating that and going forward with a plan that started at the end of the year. It's fun. It's fun to be able to come into a season like this but also come into our convention like this, that people are excited to be going and are optimistic at the same point."

Cooper, who is known for speaking his mind, didn't dare take the bait when asked if the White Sox are the American League Central Division favorites now ahead of teams like the Detroit Tigers and the defending AL champion Kansas City Royals.

"That hasn't entered my mind that we're the favorite; that didn't come into my mind," Cooper said. "What's coming into my mind is we were in a difficult spot the last two years, and we've been pulled out of that spot, and now the playing field has been leveled off a whole lot more.

"I always look forward to the seasons all the time, because each one presents a challenge in the area that I do, which is pitching, trying to get the maximum out of each guy. And that's not going to change. But we're a better-looking team. The playing field looks like it's been leveled and let's have at it. That's where I'm at."

2015 player development staff revealed

January, 21, 2015
Jan 21
2:46
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox announced coaching staffs for their six minor league affiliates, including changes at the top with two clubs.

Managers returning to their posts in 2015 include Joel Skinner at Triple-A Charlotte, Julio Vinas at Double-A Birmingham, Tommy Thompson at Single-A Kannapolis and Mike Gellinger in the Arizona Rookie League.

New managers include Tim Esmay at Single-A Winston-Salem and Cole Armstrong at Advanced Rookie Great Falls. Esmay replaces Pete Rose Jr., while Armstrong replaces Charles Poe.

Esmay was the head coach at Arizona State the past five seasons, leading the Sun Devils to four NCAA Tournament berths and a trip to the College World Series in 2010. He resigned from his position in June after a season in which the Sun Devils did not appear in the top 25 for the first time.

All six pitching coaches will return to their posts: Richard Dotson (Charlotte), Britt Burns (Birmingham), J.R. Perdew (Winston-Salem), Jose Bautista (Kannapolis), Brian Drahman (Great Falls) and Felipe Lara (AZL White Sox).

Former Charlotte manager Nick Capra will enter his fourth season as the organization’s director of player development, while Kirk Champion will enter his fourth season as the field coordinator.

Projected lineup: LaRoche cleaning up

November, 25, 2014
11/25/14
4:38
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- With a few exceptions, Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura expects to use new left-handed hitting run producer Adam LaRoche as his cleanup hitter.

For now, the plan is to have the right-handed hitting Jose Abreu bat third, have the lefty swinging LaRoche in the No. 4 spot and the right-handed hitting Avisail Garcia batting fifth.

“Yeah, that’s how I see it,” Ventura said. “You’re able to split that up and it really balances out our lineup to have Conor (Gillaspie) in a more comfortable spot of just being a line-drive hitter just batting in the sixth hole.

“I would expect (LaRoche) to mostly be in the four-hole unless we somehow end up where Jose’s batting fourth and then (LaRoche) is probably fifth. As of right now, I have him batting right behind Jose in the four-hole.”

Gillaspie played 43 games last season in the No. 3 hole as Ventura tried to balance his lineup between right-handed and left-handed hitters. Gillaspie was even the surprise No. 3 hitter on Opening Day.

The upper two-thirds of the batting order seems to be set. Adam Eaton figures to be the leadoff hitter, followed by Alexei Ramirez, who has been in trade rumors but isn’t likely to be moved unless the White Sox get an impressive haul in return.

Abreu, LaRoche, Garcia and Gillaspie round out the top six spots. That would leave the left fielder -- whether it is Dayan Viciedo or somebody else -- aimed toward the seven-hole, with catcher Tyler Flowers the likely No. 8 hitter.

As of now, the lineup would appear to close with the second baseman. Candidates at second include Carlos Sanchez, Marcus Semien and the speedy Micah Johnson.

Ventura fined for dirt-kicking incident

August, 17, 2014
8/17/14
12:01
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura was fined an undisclosed amount for his on-field tirade Wednesday at San Francisco when he argued with crew chief Fieldin Culbreth and kicked dirt on home plate.

Ventura was upset that a call was overturned, allowing Gregor Blanco to score a run for the Giants. Catcher Tyler Flowers tagged out Blanco, but the umpires used replay to determine that Flowers blocked the path to the plate. A day earlier, umpires reviewed a similar call with the Giants on defense, but allowed the out to stand.

Asked if he was fined before Sunday’s game, Ventura answered with a simple, “yes,” but gave no other details. Asked if the fine could have paid for a lavish party, Ventura said “yes” again before walking away.

Ventura did not specify if he was fined over and above the regular amount given to players, managers and coaches when they are ejected.

MLB rules prohibit managers from arguing with umpires after a replay decision has been made.

La Russa's Sox memories remain rich

July, 26, 2014
7/26/14
6:09
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The end to his days as Chicago White Sox manager isn't something Tony La Russa will embrace, but the overall memories of his first managing job remain satisfying.

Using a style considered cutting edge when he took the White Sox job in 1979, the Tampa, Florida, native and fringe major leaguer wasn't everybody's cup of tea.

[+] EnlargeLaRussa
AP Photo/Mike GrollTony La Russa led the White Sox to the playoffs in 1983, the first postseason appearance for the team since 1959.
La Russa did it his way, and in 1983 his way delivered a 99-win season and the White Sox's first postseason berth since 1959. But by 1986 he was gone after short-lived general manager Ken "Hawk" Harrelson fired him.

With his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame about to go down Sunday, most White Sox fans in town to see the ceremony are focusing more on 1983 than 1986.

"I've heard it [all] along, but here in the last four or five months I'm getting a lot of comments," La Russa said of interaction with White Sox fans. "I think our fans, I run into them all the time. They remember '83. They enjoyed it. We all enjoyed it. It was something special."

The joy wouldn't last back then. Harrelson left the broadcast booth in 1985 to take over as GM and La Russa's days were as good as numbered.

"We had played pretty good in '85 so he was stuck with me," La Russa said. "I think if he had his own guys, I don't know that his ideas wouldn't work. I just know they didn't [that year]. We fought him. We tried to work 'em, but we had to fight 'em."

Harrelson and La Russa didn't talk again until they broke the ice in 1992. They have stayed good friends since.

Broadcaster Harry Caray was another La Russa critic, and unlike the feud he ended with Harrelson, that one never was repaired.

"Hell no," La Russa said. "The first [shot] he took was, 'Bill [Veeck] was too cheap to hire a real manager.' There's probably a lot of truth to that. Harry liked to pick on the lambs and I was a lamb."

He left the White Sox to manage the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals, and that lamb turned into a wolf. In 33 seasons as a manager, La Russa won 2,728 games, the third-highest total all time behind Hall of Famers Connie Mack and John McGraw. La Russa ended up winning three World Series.

But it all started in Chicago.

"First Bill Veeck, the way he would ask questions and get you involved with the great scouts, that was like going to graduate school night school and work on weekends," La Russa said. "It was just work, work, work. Then here comes new owners Jerry [Reinsdorf] and Eddie [Einhorn]. They loved the game of baseball so it was a great atmosphere. Then you had Roland Hemond as the GM. How much better can it get than that?"

'Hawk' to celebrate La Russa at HOF

July, 25, 2014
7/25/14
8:00
AM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The only man to ever fire Tony La Russa as a manager will be in Cooperstown, N.Y., this weekend to celebrate La Russa's induction into the Hall of Fame.

[+] EnlargeKen Harrelson
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhKen "Hawk" Harrelson said he and Tony La Russa didn't talk for six or seven years after Harrelson fired him as White Sox manager in 1986.
Ken "Hawk" Harrelson is a White Sox broadcaster now, known for an oft-criticized excitable style. In 1985 and into the next year, though, he took a break from the booth to serve as White Sox general manager, where he may have made his most criticized move of all.

Harrelson made the decision to fire La Russa as manager after the team started the 1986 season 26-38. La Russa ended with a 522-510 record at the helm of the White Sox.

"It's funny, he managed what 33, 34 years in the big leagues and he only got fired one time, and you're talking to the [fool] that fired him," Harrelson said. "He might go down as certainly one of, but maybe the best, manager we've ever seen."

La Russa was immediately hired by the Oakland Athletics to be their manager, but Harrelson estimates that he didn't talk to La Russa for "six or seven years" as a result of the firing. The deep freeze ended, interestingly enough, after the A's topped the White Sox during a series in Chicago.

"It was a four-game series, I think, and they took three out of four from us, and he was doing just a magnificent job," Harrelson said. "After the game was over, I went downstairs and I walked into the visiting clubhouse and he had 15 or 20 people in there with him, but for some reason we made eye contact. When we did, I went [thumb's up] and I turned around and walked out.

"I get about 15, 20 feet down the hallway there and it's Tony and he says, 'Hawk, Hawk.' So he came up and we shook hands and he said, 'It's been too long.' I said, 'You're right, it has been too long.' Since that time, we've been close."

So while seeing Frank Thomas getting inducted into the Hall of Fame might be Harrelson's biggest reason for attending Sunday's ceremony, seeing La Russa get his honor will be rewarding as well.

Reinsdorf

It was the biggest regret (letting Tony La Russa go). Well, it was the combination, naming a general manager that shouldn't have been a general manager and then letting him fire Tony.

-- Jerry Reinsdorf
Harrelson said he played in La Russa's charity golf tournament this year and the two will swap stories again this weekend, with Harrelson sure to get more grief for his decision to fire a future Hall of Fame manager.

Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf already got in the first good-natured shot at Harrelson this week.

"It was the biggest regret [letting La Russa go]," Reinsdorf said. "Well, it was the combination, naming a general manager that shouldn't have been a general manager and then letting him fire Tony."

If there is one thing Harrelson is relieved about, it's that La Russa was able to go on and prove his managerial skills at Oakland and St. Louis.

"I didn't fire Tony because he was a bad manager," Harrelson said. "We had a difference of opinion. He wanted to go one way and I wanted to go another way. At that time, the club was going bad and the fans were really on him bad.

"I walked into his office and said, 'Tony, I've got to do one of two things.' He said, 'What's that?' I said, 'Either I have to fire you or I have to make you a hero.' He said, 'You can't make me a hero.' Well, obviously I did."

Ventura fine with Guillen comment

July, 18, 2014
7/18/14
9:13
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – Ozzie Guillen would love to have his old job back one day.

Guillen doesn’t want to be disrespectful to Robin Ventura, who currently has the Chicago White Sox manager's job.

If that sounds a little contradictory, Ventura understood it just fine.

Guillen’s feelings about his old job were made known in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times during All-Star Game festivities earlier this week.

“I wish,” Guillen, currently an analyst for ESPN, said about returning to the South Side -- where he guided the White Sox to a World Series title in 2005 -- if the spot were available. “But if I say yes, then I don’t respect Robin Ventura. But that’s not where I’m coming from. When Robin gets tired of managing or he’s had enough, I would like to be back. But it’s up to them. If I wear a uniform and it’s the White Sox, that will be special.”

Ventura and Guillen are former teammates and friends and exchanged hellos when Guillen came to a mid-June home game against the San Francisco Giants. It was Guillen’s first time in the ballpark since he was let out of his White Sox contract late in the 2011 season to pursue the Marlins’ managerial job.

“Somebody just told me about [Guillen’s comments]; that’s him,” said Ventura, who spent time at his California lake house during the All-Star break. “I think everybody knew that his feelings would be like that before, so it’s not surprising.”

Does it bother Ventura that Guillen might be eyeing his chair even before he departs it?

“If I’m not doing it anymore, I don’t care who’s doing it, so it would be fine if it was him,” Ventura said.

White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf recently attended the wedding of Guillen’s oldest son, Ozzie Jr., so there don't seem to be any hard feelings on that end.

“Eventually that stuff all heals and you will get back to seeing him around,” Ventura said. “Eventually that always happens.”

General manager Rick Hahn had no intention of touching the subject.

“I was actually out of town with my family for the All-Star Game so I didn't see the comments specifically,” Hahn said. “So I'm not really concerned about what maybe happens after that. I will say my focus is on winning multiple championships with Robin Ventura.”

Ozzie Guillen takes in Sox-Giants

June, 18, 2014
6/18/14
3:34
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – Former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was in attendance Wednesday, saying it is the first time he has taken in a game at U.S. Cellular Field since he was fired just before the end of the 2011 season.

Guillen, who had seats behind home plate with his middle son Oney, took a photograph before the game with his godson, San Francisco Giants infielder Ehire Adrianza, who started at shortstop.

“I try to come down to this ballpark for a little while, but especially this summer, I was sitting home and watching games and every time I plan to come it was too cold and I shut it down,” Guillen said. “Now I have the opportunity to see my nephew and see the guys playing.

“It’s my first time here. It feels weird, but it feels kind of nice. I see a lot of people I know for a long time, and like I say, I don’t know how you describe the feeling to see the game from here and then see it from the field. I think from here is a little easier then what you see from the field.”

In eight seasons as White Sox manager, Guillen posted a 678-517 record, guiding the team to a World Series victory in 2005. Guillen currently serves as an analyst for ESPN television.

“I came a little late; I come to see (Adrianza),” Guillen said. “I have a chance to see a couple of Venezuelan players who play for the Giants, plus (manager Bruce Bochy). He was my roommate and teammate in the past, and I not have a chance to see anybody from the Whtie Sox because I was at the ballpark a little bit late.”

Despite parting ways with the White Sox, Guillen has continued to make his full-time residence in Chicago. His youngest son Ozney is an infielder with the Normal (Ill.) CornBelters of the independent Frontier League.

“Every time I have a chance to drive up and see him, I do; It’s been fun,” Guillen said. “You miss the game on the field, you miss to be back. Working ESPN and watching my son play, it takes all the little edge you have to come back to manage the game.”

Ventura is vague on camp changes

February, 17, 2014
2/17/14
4:56
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Position players will report to big league camp Thursday, and while changes are expected in the Chicago White Sox’s spring training routine, manager Robin Ventura was coy on the subject.

Last season’s offensive struggles were addressed when former hitting coach Jeff Manto was fired even before the season ended. Todd Steverson was hired away from the Oakland Athletics organization and is in the midst of implementing a revamped hitting strategy that emphasizes strike-zone management.

Addressing the defense and baserunning figures to be more subtle, but those areas will no doubt be taken into account once the full team takes the field this week. One area already addressed on the baserunning side is the arrival of Adam Eaton to take over in center field for Alejandro De Aza, who had the most issues on the base paths last year.

If new drills or extended camp days are coming, Ventura wasn’t revealing much.

“I don’t know if it’s tweaks to where everybody would notice, but there are things that we saw maybe in the last couple of years that you just wanted to change,” Ventura said. “We’ll flip some things around but it’s not like we’re inventing the game. We’re still doing things that you have to be ready for during the season.”

Asked specifically if the changes will address defense and baserunning, Ventura didn’t want to just limit it to those two areas.

“It’s everything,” he said. “Because last year was the way it was, it doesn’t mean that’s the only thing we’re going to [address]. We’re going to touch on everything and make sure everybody understands it and you’re ready to execute it.”

Intensity arrives on Day 2 of SoxFest

January, 25, 2014
1/25/14
12:45
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – The 2014 version of SoxFest grew far more intense Saturday with fans not only questioning some of the moves made by general manager Rick Hahn, but the fire of manager Robin Ventura.

Hahn said the discourse was welcome and completely expected.

“Look, we lost 99 games last year and these people have come out in the dead of winter to show their support for the team, but at the same time have some questions on their mind,” Hahn said. “It’s completely understandable.

“Certainly it’s not a surprise we heard about the catching situation. There are going to be questions about A.J. (Pierzynski) when you get a group like this together. It’s not a surprise.”

Friday was far less intense, but the audience for that session was limited to fans that purchased packages to stay in the Palmer House Hilton all weekend. Saturday’s session was a packed house with many fans who purchased one-day passes.

The first two fans who took the open microphone for questions asked why Pierzynski was never re-signed after the 2012 season and why Adam Dunn is still a member of the club.

Hahn and executive vice present Kenny Williams have answered those questions repeatedly in the media, but Saturday’s seminar gave Hahn a chance to express himself directly.

“Absolutely, I think this is a great opportunity,” Hahn said. “Obviously people who are willing to spend their time and money in January to come out to something like this are extraordinarily passionate about the club, extraordinarily invested in the club. And the ability to sit there and answer their questions until there are no more is a nice opportunity for us to make sure we get our message to the people who care the most.”

In Pierzynski’s case, Hahn reiterated that the idea has been to go with a younger catcher who can grow with the team’s new youthful core. Unsaid is that Pierzynski would have cost 14 times more than an internal option, all while he heads toward the downside of his career.

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Sox never wavered on Ventura

January, 24, 2014
1/24/14
8:28
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Just because the Chicago White Sox gave an extension to their manager after a 99-loss season doesn't mean they were oblivious to the perception that they seemingly rewarded failure.

It didn't take long after Friday's announcement of a new multiyear deal for Robin Ventura that the cynics began to surface, asking what he would have received had the White Sox actually been a successful team last season.

General manager Rick Hahn seemed prepared for the head-scratchers Friday on the first day of SoxFest with a response that, if not rehearsed, was at least thought out well ahead of time.

"You lose 99 games there's going to be questions like that, about where this organization is headed and why they think the people in charge are the right people to get them to their end goals," Hahn said. "I will say that we saw in 2012 and in 2013 was sort of two extremes in terms of being a first-place club and being a club that was disappointing in terms of their performance. And throughout each of those extremes, Robin's leadership was unwavering.

"His communication, his ability to teach at the big-league level, his enthusiasm, his baseball intellect -- all the things we were looking for in a manager were the same at our highest highs and our lowest lows. And that level of stability is what we want from a leader in the dugout."

As for how much of a commitment the White Sox are making beyond this year, they are only calling it a "multiyear" deal. Speculation is that the extension could be for two more years after the upcoming season.

Why all the secrecy?

"You know the first time that he signed his contract we didn't announce the terms either," Hahn said. "Frankly we realize there's a level of interest in these things and the length of employee contracts, but we also realize we work in sports and the length of our contract is really just indicative of how long we get paid until something goes wrong.

"We still have to deliver, we still have to perform and we've shown a willingness recently to let someone go who still had time on their contract simply because we weren't getting it done."

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For starters, Sale would have remained ace

January, 22, 2014
1/22/14
6:10
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The New York Yankees just spent $175 million on a player the Chicago White Sox would have viewed as only their No. 2 starter.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn suggested as much Wednesday when talking about the end of the Masahiro Tanaka bidding that saw the big-spending Yankees get their man by offering a seven-year, $155 million deal. The Yankees also have to pay a $20 million posting fee to Tanaka’s former team in Japan.

“As a potential long-term fit into the rotation, we saw [Tanaka] as someone who would fit in nicely behind Chris Sale, give us a nice one-two punch for the foreseeable future,” Hahn said.

Obviously, Hahn would have rather brought Tanaka into the fold, but the point was made loud and clear that Sale, who will turn 25 on the day before the season starts, would have remained at the head of the rotation.

And as far as salary goes, the White Sox are more than happy to be spending $3.5 million on Sale for the upcoming season instead of the average $22.1 million yearly salary Tanaka will be earning in New York. In fact, the most the White Sox will pay Sale in a single season on his current contract, even if two team options are picked up, is $13.5 million in 2019.

Manager Robin Ventura was asked Wednesday if he appreciated Sale even more knowing what Tanaka will be paid by the Yankees.

“I [appreciated Sale] regardless,” Ventura said. “It didn’t have to take Tanaka to do that. You are very pleased with having Chris, and I think the contract is fair for everybody. That’s what you would really like -- to have a fair deal for both sides.”

Skinner, Vinas return as managers

January, 21, 2014
1/21/14
3:05
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Julio Vinas, who guided Birmingham to the Southern League championship in 2013, will return in 2014 to manage the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A team.

The White Sox announced their player development staffs Tuesday in advance of spring training, which begins next month in Glendale, Ariz.

Also returning is Joel Skinner, who will manage Triple-A Charlotte for a third consecutive season. The Knights will move into a new stadium in downtown Charlotte for the upcoming season. Skinner’s staff will include pitching coach Richard Dotson and hitting coach Andy Tomberlin.

Vinas, who was named by Baseball America as the best manager prospect in the Southern League, will have a staff of pitching coach Britt Burns and hitting coach Brandon Moore.

New manager assignments include Tommy Thompson at Single-A Winston-Salem, Pete Rose Jr. at Single-A Kannapolis and Charlie Poe at Rookie League Great Falls. Thompson and Rose Jr. will enter their fourth seasons as managers in the organization. Rose Jr. led Great Falls to a spot in the Pioneer League playoffs last season.

Mike Gellinger, a former White Sox assistant hitting coach, will manage the organization’s new entry in the Arizona Rookie League. Last season he managed at advanced rookie Bristol, but that will no longer be a White Sox affiliate.

Tim Laker will return as the hitting coordinator and will be joined by new assistant hitting coordinator Vance Law.

Despite uncertainty, Ventura optimistic

December, 11, 2013
12/11/13
2:43
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura left the winter meetings Wednesday afternoon to return home to California, still uneasy talking about the 2014 roster.

[+] EnlargeRobin Ventura
AP Photo/Tony DejakRobin Ventura's lineup will have a younger look in 2014.
It's not that he doesn't like what is happening with the team's youth movement. Actually, it's quite the contrary. He knows young blood is a necessity after the disaster that was the 2013 season and welcomes the opportunity to improve the overall talent.

The problem is that Ventura doesn't know exactly what he will have on Opening Day, essentially because the front office is still busing revamping -- if not rebuilding -- the roster.

Case in point was Tuesday's move to bring aboard new center fielder Adam Eaton, a move that would seem to make Alejandro De Aza expendable, unless the White Sox are somehow thinking of platooning him in left field with Dayan Viciedo.

Then again, moving Viciedo now could make sense because his value would only crash land if he repeats his limited production in the upcoming season.

There is also the potential for the White Sox to make changes at catcher and third base, while bringing aboard an experienced left-handed reliever.

"You come down to these meetings, especially the way the season went, and you trade guys, have a deadline, get new guys, you kind of see how they play, and then you come down here, you know," Ventura said this week. "There's stuff kind of flying everywhere, a lot of it probably not true, but, you know, it's stuff that's flying around. So you don't necessarily know what you're dealing with until probably you leave here and then have a better idea where you stand and what could happen, who you could be using."

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Role a challenge for game Konerko

December, 4, 2013
12/04/13
4:51
PM CT
Padilla By Doug Padilla
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Paul Konerko admitted Wednesday that he wouldn’t have returned if he didn’t have a reduced role in 2014, with the challenge now placed on the shoulders of manager Robin Ventura to make the lighter load work to the team’s advantage.

[+] EnlargePaul Konerko
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastPaul Konerko plans to seek advice on how to adapt to being a part-time player in his final season with the White Sox.
The White Sox announced Wednesday that Konerko will be back for his 16th and final season on the South Side in 2014, working out a deal where the team captain will earn $2.5 million, with $1 million of that deferred to 2021.

Konerko has always maintained that if he gets his regular 600-plus plate appearances his numbers will be there, yet he could be looking at half of that in the upcoming season. In the seasons where the numbers were not to Konerko’s standards (2003, 2008 and 2013) he had 520 plate appearances or less each time.

Now comes the team’s plan to essentially platoon Konerko and Adam Dunn at the designated hitter spot, with newcomer Jose Abreu taking over at first base. As a part-time player and pinch-hit threat Konerko could be facing 350 plate appearances or less.

In his final two seasons in a similar role, former White Sox slugger Jim Thome had 324 combined plate appearances in 2011 and 186 in 2012.

“From here on out, I’m on a quest to learn about the role a little bit, which I have some guys in mind that I’d like to talk to who have done this,” Konerko said Wednesday. “I want to kind of learn. Every guy is different, everybody has a different routine.”

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.17 208 174
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .317
HRJ. Abreu 36
RBIJ. Abreu 107
RA. Ramirez 82
OPSJ. Abreu .964
ERAC. Sale 2.17
SOC. Sale 208