White Sox general manager Rick Hahn confirmed Friday that manager Robin Ventura will return as manager in 2016 and that bench coach Mark Parent will not return. Assistant hitting coach Harold Baines is stepping down but will stay in the organization in an ambassador’s role, Hahn said.
Hahn met with media and expressed disappointment in the team’s failure to compete for the postseason. The Sox take a 74-85 record into tonight’s game against the Detroit Tigers and are in danger of finishing in last place in the AL Central for the second time in three seasons.
Asked what makes Ventura the right person for the job after three consecutive losing seasons, Hahn said, “Robin is a tremendous communicator. He creates the right environment, he gives the players the right information. Any manager, you’re going to have tactical disagreements [in games].
“A big part of the managerial job is what happens in the other 21 hours of the day. Robin’s strengths are in the communication and environment he creates for those players that allows them to maximize their abilities.
“Again there is room for improvement from a tactical standpoint and even from an off the field standpoint. Robin is embracing the opportunity to show that improvement.”
Parent was Ventura’s right-hand man since he was hired before the 2012 season.
“We notified Mark Parent last night — our bench coach — that his contract, which was expiring, would not be extended for the 2016 season,” Hahn said. “We will have that opening heading into the offseason on our coaching staff. Mark is a good baseball man and it is unfortunate how we have played out on the field is having these repercussions for him personally. But we did get to the point where we think it is important to add a different voice to our coaching staff.”
While citing Ventura’s clubhouse management and communication skills as strengths, Hahn alluded to Ventura’s tactical in-game decision-making as an area for improvement. This season, Ventura was taken to task for not having a pivotal play reviewed in Detroit, having Adam Eaton bunt with two strikes in Cleveland and having reliever Zach Duke announced before the Brewers announced a pinch hitter.
“There’s a few areas where we need to get stronger, and I feel that was missing in certain areas from our coaching staff,” Hahn said. “Someone who can help from certain in-game tactical decisions in a different way has strengths in some different areas. Again, Mark is a tremendous baseball man, it just wasn’t the right fit going forward for our coaching staff.
Hahn said a coach with managerial experience and one who speaks fluent Spanish would be plusses but those will not be game-breakers in the hire. He alluded to pitching coach Don Cooper’s and hitting coach Todd Steverson’s abilities to speak enough Spanish.
” I don’t like, in any opening, sort of limiting ourselves to a certain level of experience or certain backgrounds,” Hahn said.
“We have a list already assembled. It takes as long as it takes to get the right guy. There could well be some turnover elsewhere that opens up some names that aren’t on our list at this time. I don’t foresee it a 2-3 day process but we’ll get it done in the next few weeks.”
Hahn said Baines’ role will be filled as well. A favorite of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf whose number is retired by the Sox, Baines will will work with hitters at times during spring training and during the season.
“Beyond that, I expect Robin Ventura and the rest of the staff to return in their current capacity for the 2016 season,” Hahn said. “Obviously everyone with this organization is extremely disappointed with the way this season has played out. We have already begun the work on trying to address several of the areas in which all of us need to improve in order to get us to the level we want to get to for the future. When I say everyone that includes myself, that includes Robin, that includes our players.”