BOSTON – Will Robin Ventura last the season?
The White Sox have played like a team that gets its manager fired, with 26 losses in their last 37 games after a 23-10 start. And if taken to a fan vote, a reasonable assumption could be made – if social media, talk show callers and even things heard from growingly grumpy crowds at U.S. Cellular Field are an indication – that Ventura would be let go.
For that matter, as the Sox’ four-week tumble turned into five and now six, a growing number of fans want everyone in the organization exchanged for new blood, from Ventura to general manager Rick Hahn to vice president Ken Williams to an unrealistic hope chairman Jerry Reinsdorf will sell the team.
This isn’t a small, vocal minority talking. It’s a growing nucleus of hard-core fans who see 2005 as ancient history, who view 2008’s playoff appearance as the only one since then as an embarrassment and, watching the hated Cubs turn the baseball world upside down on the other side of town, are wondering if the Sox shouldn’t tear up the their plan and start from scratch as the North Siders did.
This latest free fall is the last straw for some, and after seeing the front office show a ruthless side by cutting John Danks, Mat Latos and Jimmy Rollins, it might suggest a willingness to let go of Ventura, whose contract is up after the season. The torch and pitchfork crowd demands more.
Hahn offered kudos for the way the Sox are prepared on a nightly basis but calling the results “extraordinarily frustrating form the last month-plus now,” played it down the middle before the Sox’ 3-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox in 10 innings at Fenway Park Monday when asked if Ventura’s job is safe.
“My answer to that is the same it’s been for the last few weeks in that, I don’t think it’s in anybody’s best interest for me to comment on the status of anybody in uniform — coach, manager, player — other than to say that on any given night, we’re doing everything in our power to support the group that’s here and to try to put them in the best position to win,’’ Hahn said.
“It’s the only thing we can control right now and that’s where our focus is.
“It’s natural to look at areas where you can get better, but any decisions are made based upon the entirety of anyone’s performance, based on not just the snippet of five or 10 days or the length of a season or past career.’’
Reinsdorf may be loyal to a fault and reluctant to make a change in the dugout, but he is a good enough baseball man to know Ventura is managing a flawed roster. What’s more, there is no magic manager at the front office’s fingertips to make things better.
Bench coach Rick Renteria, unceremoniously fired as Cubs manager and beloved and respected by Ventura and the staff, made it clear when the Sox hired him during the offseason that he wanted nothing to do with Ventura’s job in 2016.
“It remains the same,’’ Renteria said Monday. “I’m here to help the organization with the people who are in place now. That was why I came here and it hasn’t changed. And I’ll leave it at that.
“I’m not seeking it. It’s not why I came. I came here to help Robin to the best of my ability. I’m here to serve Robin.”
Monday’s victory brought the Sox to within two games of .500 and was one of the more invigorating wins of the season. With the score tied at 1, left-hander Zach Duke escaped a bases loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the ninth after Zach Duke loaded the bases with no outs.
In the 10th, Jose Abreu doubled in two runs with two outs against Craig Kimbrel to break the tie. Abreu drove in Avisail Garcia (walk) from third and Adam Eaton (fielder’s choice) from first. J.B. Shuck also singled in the inning.
David Robertson pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
Miguel Gonzalez pitched 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball.