Ventura will bring his own style to manager's job
New skipper thought through challenges before signing on
CHICAGO -- The original offer from White Sox general manager Ken Williams to Robin Ventura about filling the team's managerial vacancy came face-to-face about three weeks ago, while Ventura was in Arizona.
After that initial talk, which Ventura termed on a couple of occasions as "throwing him for a loop," Williams would call Ventura every couple of days to see where he stood. Ventura started back with the White Sox on June 6 as a special advisor to director of player development Buddy Bell -- which was a perfect scenario for Ventura to contribute to an organization he considered a family, while also spending the bulk of his time with his wife and four kids in California.
Make no mistake, though, about Ventura's final intentions. When he was announced as the organization's 39th manager at a Tuesday morning news conference at the U.S. Cellular Field Conference and Learning Center, this was not a job Ventura was talked into taking.
"In most instances, somebody would just jump at the chance without thinking it through," said Ventura, who was presented with his No. 23 jersey by Williams before taking questions from the media. "I realized there are challenges.
"That's part of going through it. It's a tremendous job. It's hard. It's fun. It has all those things to it. Just because you don't jump at it, at first, doesn't mean you don't want to do it or you're not passionate about it.
"For me, it's thinking through the entire thing. 'Is this the right time?'" Ventura said. "And that was what it was for me. [Williams] even asked me, 'Am I talking you into it?' I said, 'No, you're not talking me into it. I'm working my way through it to make sure that when I commit to it, I'm in. I'm ready to roll.'"
Forgive Ventura if he came ever so close to the "All in" slogan that didn't play out near what the White Sox expected during a subpar 2011 campaign. Ozzie Guillen, who managed the team to a 2005 World Series title and a 2008 American League Central crown, ended his eight-year run two days before the close of this trying campaign, being released from the remaining year of his contract to pursue other opportunities.
While Guillen moved on to a four-year deal running the Miami Marlins, Ventura took over the White Sox under a three-year deal with no options. The hiring of Guillen and Ventura by Williams were somewhat similar, in that they were previous organization staples as players and, although neither one had prior managerial experience, Williams and White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf knew what to expect with their personalities and commitment to the organization.
Clearly, the understated Ventura's managerial style and sessions with the media will be different than the in-your-face, often comedy club-like styling from Guillen.
"Yeah. I totally respect what Ozzie did. He was a great manager. They got a World Series out of it," Ventura said. "I don't sit here thinking I'm going to fill those shoes, as far as being in the media and saying things.
"It's just him. That's his personality. He was always that way. And I enjoyed it just as much as anyone else. Believe me. But I just have to be who I am."
Since being announced as the White Sox new leader, following Guillen and pitching coach Don Cooper's two-game interim run, Ventura has received numerous calls of congratulations from coaches, managers and players alike. When asked for the best piece of advice he received to date, Ventura said it was about just being himself.
This bit of wisdom will be easily followed by Ventura. The veteran of 16 Major League seasons doesn't plan on changing a whole lot. As for Williams' take on Ventura, a lack of experience coming into this new gig sits well down a list of any concerns.
"You're talking to a guy who didn't have general manager experience when I was first hired. I don't think that is a prerequisite," Williams said. "If you can do the job, you can do the job. He's got  years of managerial experience from my perspective, because I know what you think about when you are on that field and a player that is very focused on the game at hand.
"He's a cerebral guy that thinks through situations. He has insight that a lot of people don't have. He sees the game from a lot of angles that a lot of people don't have. It's a rare quality. In addition to that, he has a dry sense of humor combined with a discipline that is, again, unique in terms of how he's going to be able to lead a team.
"I want a team out there that is disciplined, that is a working team, that is fundamentally capable. But at the same time, I don't want a heavy-handedness. I would like for them to lighten up a little bit and have fun. It's a lot easier to play this game when you lighten up and you are enjoying yourself."
Stephanie Ventura, Robin's wife, joined him for Tuesday's press conference. The Venturas have two kids in college, one in high school and one in junior high school. Their family will be moving to Chicago during the 2012 regular season, as Ventura returns home to a job he's excited to begin.
"I've played for great managers, and you take pieces of that as you go. I've gained the confidence to be able to do it," Ventura said. "I basically get to follow these guys that I played for, that feel confident that I could do it. But it's exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time, to be able to catch back up and be ready.
"My wife and I feel like we're coming back into family. I have so much support that that's where I feel the confidence in [being] able to come in here and do this. The bottom line is, the guys have to be confident I can do the job. The bottom line is everyone has to be confident I'm doing the right things, and guys [have to] play well."