Ventura may not play by book down stretch

September, 16, 2012
9/16/12
2:31
PM CT
Levine By Bruce Levine
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Chicago White Sox's last 18 games of the season will be managed with a certain urgency that has not been seen before.

Nobody knew how rookie manager Robin Ventura would handle crucial moves during the championship month of September. Tradition tells you that most dugout bosses stay the course and live and die with the players who got it done the first five months. So far, that has not been Ventura’s M.O . He is not afraid to take his closer out of games or remove a starter in the second inning.

[+] EnlargeRobin Ventura
Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesRobin Ventura has shown he'll trust his gut as he seeks wins down the stretch.
In Saturday’s game, Ventura took closer Addison Reed out after he loaded the bases with nobody out. Calmly, he went to Matt Thornton, who got a double-play ball and a groundout to end the game.

“I have been through this before,” Ventura said. “I just haven’t done it as a manager.”

What Ventura was pointing out is that as a player for 15 years he had managed hundreds of games in his mind.

“This is not the first time I have seen all of this,” he said. “This is fun. We realize what is at stake.”

Ventura has had pitchers warming up in the bullpen in the second and third innings the past 10 days, certainly a departure from managing in the first five months of the season.

“You have to remember that we have an expanded roster this month,” Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “We have had a lot of young guys throw the ball well, which gives Robin a lot of options. The way he thinks is out of the box and not conventional at all. This time of year there are some days when hitters or pitchers just don’t have it.”

Others have noticed that Ventura’s in-game moves are anything but predictable.

“We as players are always thinking ahead and in a sense just like managers as we play,” Konerko said. “The difference is we don’t get second-guessed if the moves don’t work out. Robin definitely has his own style. We take a lot of infield, we hit a lot, but as players we got used to that in spring training, because it was a little bit of a shock. You learn to just fall in line because if that’s what your boss wants, you do it. It is the same with game stuff, he will play for one run, pinch run early for a guy and do the opposite the next game. You can’t argue with the results. I kind of like the that he is so unpredictable . Bottom line he is not afraid to use his instincts or guts to make a move that he thinks is right “

Bruce Levine | email

Chicago baseball beat reporter
Bruce Levine has covered sports in Chicago for over 28 years and hosts "Talkin' Baseball," heard Saturday mornings on ESPN 1000.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Chris Sale
WINS ERA SO IP
10 1.88 122 110
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Abreu .294
HRJ. Abreu 30
RBIJ. Abreu 79
RJ. Abreu 54
OPSJ. Abreu .963
ERAC. Sale 1.88
SOC. Sale 122