Thursday, September 12, 2013
Ventura learns from a lost season
By Bruce Levine
CHICAGO -- Managing a major league team through a lost season was not what Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura signed up for.
Ventura, 47, finished third in manager of the year voting last season, coming off an 85-win season in his first year as manager. Ventura and the Sox front office expected a contending team, despite making very few changes in personnel coming into the new season.
But this year, saddled with the third-worst record in the game, Ventura has had to make adjustments to his original plan.
"I don't know if I would call it a learning curve," he said. "It is different. Last year we were in a different situation; this year playing the extra guys that we brought up for different reasons. In this situation you let some pitchers work through some things instead of taking them out. You take a longer look at your younger guys."
Ventura does not appear to have lost any desire or focus, despite the team's horrendous record.
"You still go about the job the same way," said Ventura, whose contract runs through the 2014 season. "It may be slightly different because you might be starting a guy for a different reason than last year. As far as the preparation and how you go about it, you make sure the guys are getting all of their work in and doing what they are supposed to be doing."
Ventura has not looked past this season despite the temptation to move on from the disappointment of 2013.
"There is no part of this that is easy," he said. "Nothing about this has been fun at all. It is work and you are trying to find ways to change it. That is why we want to go into the offseason seeing what we have right now [young players] until the end of the year. From that point you make assessments and figure out which way we are going and how we are going to do it."
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona had his share of teams that finished out of contention in his first major league managing job in Philadelphia, where he managed from 1997-2000.
"That was always my toughest job," said Francona, former manager of the two-time World Series champion Boston Red Sox. "I hated September when you weren't in it. You look across the dugout and you see a team that is a little beat up and tired. They are nervous and excited. I was always very envious of that. We ran into a problem in 2009 in Boston where we ran out of players and promoted some young guys. We got valuable time for Dustin Pedroia and some other guys who became good players."
For Ventura and his coaches, the last two weeks of the season will be a challenge that might help gauge the right players to use in 2014.
"The tougher things are, the more that is learned," Ventura said. "I don't wish this on anybody, but in the end you're better for it."