Ventura makes it official: “I’m not going to be back”
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Robin Ventura made it official Sunday, confirming he has managed his final game for the White Sox following the team’s season-ending 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins at U.S. Cellular Field.
“I’m not going to be back as manager,” Ventura said after the Sox completed their fourth consecutive losing season under his watch. “It’s the right time.”
Ventura, who was in the final year of his contract, said he let general manager Rick Hahn know weeks ago that this should be the end. He called the decision “mutual.”
“I enjoy this place, love this place,’’ Ventura said. “It probably needs a new voice, and I have to be big enough to understand that and down and voice that.’’
An All-Star third baseman and fan favorite as a Sox player, Ventura guided the Sox to an 85-77 record and second-place finish in his first season, 2012, finishing third in the American League manager of the year voting. But his popularity waned when the club lost 99 games and finished in last place in the AL Central the following season, and it has not been a factor in the division since, finishing fourth the last three years. The Sox’ record improved each year since 2013, to 78-84 this year, but Ventura’s career record of 375-435 is the worst of any Sox manager lasting more than three seasons.
“Talking to Rick through September, you just realize right now is the time to do it and you need somebody else,’’ Ventura said.
The Sox are expected to replace Ventura with bench coach Rick Renteria, who managed the Cubs to a 73-89 record during a rebuilding year in 2014. Ventura’s contract expired after this season. Hahn is holding a press conference at 11 a.m. Monday at U.S. Cellular Field, likely to announce the hiring. Renteria stayed clear of media Sunday.
Ventura, respected by players and others in the organization for his character and even-keeled demeanor, was steady to the end during his last post-game press conference, although his voice cracked slightly.
“It’s more of a personal decision than anything,’’ he said. “I love being here. The organization means a lot to me. You can go as hard as you can and really the only thing you know is how you conduct your business and how you treat people. I’m good with that.’’
“It’s tough, man,” ace Chris Sale said. “He’s as good as they get, really. Over the last five years he did everything in his power to help us win games, honestly.’’
Sale, as fiery as Ventura is controlled, got into it most recently when he tore up the team’s throwback uniforms he objected to wearing. Sale, suspended by the team for subordination, later said Ventura needed to stand up more for his players in such instances.
“What did we have, a couple things that made it in the news?’’ Sale said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t like him or he didn’t like me. We always had the same goal, the same vision. The same passion.
“Things happen, but that doesn’t change what I think of him personally. He’s as good as they get.’’
The bottom line is the Sox didn’t win for too long under Ventura, who quite arguably did not have the talent to manage a winner.
“It didn’t work out the way that any of us would have wanted,’’ pitching coach Don Cooper said. “It’s the way things go. Somebody pays the price and it’s a good guy paying the price. It’s sad.’’
Through translator Billy Russo, Jose Abreu called Ventura “a nice guy and [one who] has all my respect as a person and as a manager.’’
Ventura, a surprise hire with no experience before the Sox tabbed him before the 2012 season, said he has no plans to stay in the organization, or to manage again.
“You never say never. But right now, no,’’ he said.