GLENDALE, Ariz. – Who says winning spring training games isn’t important? Robin Ventura knows they don’t mean much. But they mean something.
“You don’t want to lose a lot of games because you don’t want to get used to losing,” Ventura said after his first workout with pitchers and catchers as the White Sox’ new manager. “How guys are thinking and going about it is important, but I like to win games, too.”
With minor-leaguers often finishing exhibition games, it’s tough to gauge their significance.
“But there is something to winning games in spring training,” Ventura said. “Toward the end, you need to be winning games to get the feeling going.”
Former manager Ozzie Guillen, who was bored a week into camp, probably ran fewer drills than ÂVentura will. General Âmanager Ken Williams isn’t faulting Guillen’s approach because the Sox won a World Series his way. The Sox also got off to recent slow starts, including last season, when they were flat leaving camp.
“Whether what we implement turns out to make us a better baseball team remains to be seen,” Williams said. “Are we fundamentally sound? Do we hold runners on first base and stop the running game of the other team? Are we throwing to the right bases? Are we thinking ahead before the ball is hit to us? Are we Âsituationally hitting and Âdoing the little things?”
Ventura’s first impression made on his pitchers and catchers was good.
“Awesome,” is how right-hander Philip Humber described Ventura’s talk.
“I want to be sure every detail is covered,” Ventura said. “We’re not reinventing the game. … I want everyone to be aware there is a lot to the game.”
A.J. still No. 1
Catcher A.J. Pierzynski said he has “proven what I need to prove in this game” and if Tyler Flowers gets more playing time, it’s Âbecause Flowers is better.
“It’s always been like that since the first day you step foot in this field,” Pierzynski said.’
Ventura said Pierzynski, who has value as a left-handed hitter, is his No. 1 catcher.
“Physically, I’m as good as I’ve been in a long time,” Pierzynski said.
The state of Kenny
Williams, who enters his 12th season as Sox GM, takes nothing for granted.
“If there comes a time where [chairman Jerry Reinsdorf] believes there’s somebody that can do this job in a better way and provide him with a better chance to win and build an organization and do the things that it takes to build an organization, I’ll be the first one to step up and say, ‘You need to make this move,’ ” ÂWilliams said. “And I won’t be anything but grateful and Âthankful and move on my way or move into a different Âposition if he were to Âsuggest that.
“I know what people are saying out there and it’s because we underachieved last year, but to a large degree we still have a lot of the talent that people had so much faith in last year and it’s just a matter of getting out on the field and crossing those white lines to see what happens.”