Things could have gone much worse for Robin Ventura in his first season as the Chicago White Sox manager. His team finished eight games above .500 and he was a finalist for American League Manager of the Year. At the same time, his Sox missed out on the playoffs. It was all a learning experience that Ventura will take into his second season.
Robin Ventura joined WSCR in Chicago with Connor McKnight and Barry Rozner to discuss how much different he feels going into his second year as White Sox manager, if he has regrets about some of his in-game strategy, the health of John Danks, his ability to understand pitchers and how the Sox can score more runs this year.
How much different does it feel going into your second year as opposed to being a first-year manager?:
“It’s different just because you have gone through it. I think last year, even here, I could answer questions, but there was still the question mark there, because it hadn’t happened yet. … This year, having gone through a year that had a lot of different things — tragic things, injuries, the gut-wrenching stuff at the end of the year. There was a lot of stuff that happened that you make it through that now, going into this year, I’m just more comfortable with who we have, how we’re going to do things. They understand me.”
Any regrets in terms of your in-game strategy?:
“Yeah, I mean, there’s decisions here or there that you’re like, ‘Ugh. I probably shouldn’t do that.’ … But at the time, you’re sitting there and there’s reasons at the time. Maybe a decision that I made earlier in the year, that by the end of the year, that certain player, you wouldn’t do that to. … You go through periods of what guys are doing at that time and what you’ve seen.”
On the health and timetable of John Danks:
“Last year was tough just because of where he was at the beginning of the year. He was our opening-day starter. … You count on a guy that does that, and then he gets hurt. Having spent a lot of time, for a year, on the DL, it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating to be that player if you’re counted on for doing something and you don’t get a chance to do it. … All the reports that we get, the coaching staff gets … is he’s way ahead of schedule. You almost have to slow him down, which is great news. I don’t think, because spring training is so long, we need to start him right away and let him go nine innings right from the start. It’s piece it together, make sure he’s healthy.”
Do you think you’ve learned more about pitchers than you ever knew before?:
“A lot of my friends were pitchers. When you go out to dinner with a pitcher, or a few of them, you get their point of view. Pitching is difficult, and I’ve totally understood that since I was a player. You can do everything right and the guys screw up behind you, and it’s still on you. … I’m sensitive to that, but again, I want them going out feeling like they’re as strong as they can be. … I feel like I understand a little bit of what’s going on, but I have a new appreciation.”
How are the White Sox going to score enough runs this year to be a contender?:
“It’s going to be different. Every year you come into a year, even as a player, it’s different. I don’t care if you come back with just one different guy, it becomes a different animal every year. … I’m more of, I like looking at guys more with glass half full than glass half empty. There’s been talk of guys having one good year and one bad year. … I’m not assuming any of that stuff for any of those guys. I’m assuming they’re the same players coming back motivated to play this year.”