CHICAGO | Your White Sox are struggling, and your manager should react.
Should he call a team meeting and tear into the ground-ball bobblers, the on-base-percentage slackers and the fat-pitch servers? Turn over a food spread in classic burning-posterior manager style?
“I think the way he’s doing it is exactly how it should be handled,” Sox closer Addison Reed said Friday of Robin Ventura. “Whether we win 10 games in a row or lose 10 games in a row, he’s even-keel.
“If you come into the locker room after one of the games … they would have no idea if we won or lost. There’s no need when we’re losing to panic or when we win to get too high. There’s always going to be a game the next day.”
Perhaps this was the logic of hiring the California-cool Ventura in the first place. Maybe a manager can’t hit, pitch and field for a bunch of under-producers. But he surely could make matters worse by mishandling players and dragging down the clubhouse with an intemperate attitude.
Ventura calmed the waters after the daily sideshows and distractions of the Ozzie Guillen home stretch. But in offering up steadiness, he also displayed inexperience. The Sox showed increasing cracks down the stretch in 2012. Ventura responded by staying the course with an unaltered lineup.
Having learned his lesson and with his hands forced by injuries and slumps, Ventura now adds lineup variety to his lower-decibel approach. He even tried left-handed contact hitter Conor Gillaspie in the cleanup position the other day.
On Friday he got Dayan Viciedo back to play left field. Nothing like a re-activated power bat returning to slap a two-run double amid a four-run fourth that wasn’t enough in a 7-5 Sox loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Viciedo’s presence was one less negative angle for a manager to chew on.
Recovering from a hamate-bone fracture, Gordon Beckham should be available in a few weeks. John Danks is closing in on a return to the Sox rotation.
And if the Sox don’t start winning by then, well, Ventura won’t tear his hair out.
“Everybody’s an individual,” he said. “I just don’t want guys getting too low or getting really too high, where you take things for granted.”
If there are manager-player conversations, they’d be about the quality of effort, not necessarily the final stats.
“If he saw people not working,” said Sox captain Paul Konerko, “not getting after it, not running balls out, not grinding through at-bats, not grinding through defense, Robin would be first guy to call that guy in and have a meeting and say, ‘Hey, let’s forget about results; we need to see you getting after it.’”
“I do understand there are going to be errors made,” Ventura said. “It just needs to get better. You don’t want it to be a contagious that happens. It’s about effort and being prepared and going out there. I don’t want them going out there being tentative, either.”
Konerko is not a big backer of team meetings, which almost never spark a club to a winning streak.
That wouldn’t be Ventura’s style, anyway. If the Sox improve, they’ll have to do it via the middle ground emotionally, just like the boss.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at DGemsNet@aol.com.