- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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Leyland, who has been managing since the 1970s, was asked to evaluate Ventura’s first season as a manager.
“I am jealous because so far he has made it look easy,” said Leyland as reporters laughed at his tongue-in-cheek comment. “Robin is a former outstanding player, and he knows what it’s all about. He knew he was going to have a calming influence after a personality like Ozzie (Guillen). (Ozzie) was great; they won a World Series, so don’t take this wrong because I don’t mean it wrong. Ozzie did a great job here. This was the complete opposite and the fact that (Adam) Dunn was over here for a year changing leagues. (Alex) Rios got comfortable all of a sudden. But (Ventura) has done a terrific job, and they have a very good team.”
Timing is everything when it comes to managing a major league team. Leyland seems to have analyzed Ventura’s perspective before taking over a team that had underachieved the prior two seasons under Guillen.
“He was smart enough to know that this place (Chicago ) just needed to get settled in,” Leyland said. “Like they say in football, some guys have a nose for (the) football. Some guys have a nose for managing, and I think (Ventura ) does.”
Ventura said prior to their last series with Detroit that Leyland was light years ahead of him as far as managing tactics go. But the players on the field are more times than not the great equalizer.
“I think he has done a terrific job,” Leyland said. “He has kind of let them play. He is not pushy. I think he has figured it out pretty quick, and that helps when you have good players.”
Asked how he matches baseball wits with Leyland, Ventura said: “He is going to kill me on everything. I am obviously behind. Hopefully I can (catch up).”
So far the head-to-head matchup is advantage Leyland. Detroit leads the season series 10-4 going into Monday’s game.