McEwing among additions to Ventura's staff
Former player named third-base coach, joined by Manto, Parent
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura carried no previous coaching experience at any professional baseball level before being named the 39th White Sox manager on Oct. 6.
There only was a short stint working with director of player development Buddy Bell this past season on his resume. So the ensuing line of reasoning centered on Ventura adding an individual or individuals with Major League experience to fill out the remaining three spots on his inaugural coaching staff.
Those hires officially were announced on Monday afternoon, and new third-base coach Joe McEwing, hitting coach Jeff Manto and bench coach Mark Parent brought that expected past coaching pedigree. That pedigree amounts to two years of prior experience for Manto as hitting coach with the Pirates in 2006-07, to be exact.
Ask any of these new coaches, or Ventura for that matter, and they will tell you that lack of experience factor is not a negative. In fact, it's not even a remote concern.
"I view it as a positive," said McEwing, who took time away from his Arizona Fall League managerial work with the Mesa Solar Sox to discuss his new job on a Monday conference call. "It's nice to work together for one common goal, which is to win games.
"The group that we have is going to work as hard as anybody and try as hard as anybody ... that comes from our playing background," said Parent on that same conference call. "We were not superstars, other than Robin. With our abilities, we certainly got the most out of what we could do. This group will do the same with whatever we have to work with and try as hard and work as hard to make sure the White Sox are successful."
Basically, the White Sox on-field grinder rules from the special 2005 campaign now are being applied to Ventura's staff. And to be clear, that high-energy, high-intensity dedication certainly should be a positive for young players and veterans alike.
"I'm not hiring friends to go in and have a great old time," Ventura said. "We are here to work and win games. With the energy of all these guys, I look at it as a positive and definitely not a negative."
Manto served as the White Sox Minor League hitting coordinator for the past four years and has great familiarity with some of the younger players who could handle featured 2012 roles. The 47-year-old didn't believe that particular knowledge gave him a leg up on getting the job, nor does it make him any more knowledgeable with his hitters for the upcoming season.
Studying video plays a part in the approach for Manto, who replaces Greg Walker. His priority in preparation focuses first on an open line of communication with his hitters and having the right mental process to follow at the plate.
"Statistics are all by-products of good approach," said Manto, who will be given the task of trying to help Adam Dunn and Alex Rios get back on track after horrendous 2011 showings. "Communicating and making these guys aware of what they are trying to do.
"Just find out what they are thinking, why are they looking for a fastball in a breaking-ball count, for example. I want to create a dialogue to change the thought process as to what they are doing."
McEwing, 39, joined the White Sox in 2008 as Triple-A Charlotte hitting coach, and had managerial stints with Class A Winston-Salem (2009-10) and Charlotte this past season. McEwing, who replaces Jeff Cox, earned highly positive reviews from those who have played for him and even Major Leaguers who worked for him on Minor League rehab assignments.
Parent, 50, spent the 2011 season as manager for Double-A Reading in the Phillies organization, leading the club to a 74-68 record and a berth in the Eastern League playoffs. In his first season in the Phillies' system, Parent led Class A Lakewood to the 2010 South Atlantic League Championship and was named manager of the SAL Postseason All-Star Team.
Although Parent and Ventura once shared the same agent in John Boggs, they never played on the same team or worked together. Their first encounter, according to Parent, was when he called Ventura following the third baseman's horrific right-ankle injury during Spring Training of 1997 to give him words of encouragement.
Pitching coach Don Cooper, who agreed to a four-year extension at the end of the 2011 campaign, first-base coach Harold Baines, bullpen coach Juan Nieves, assistant hitting coach Mike Gellinger, bullpen catcher Mark Salas and batting practice pitcher Kevin Hickey return from Ozzie Guillen's final staff. Jason Frasor also will be part of Ventura's debut squad, as the White Sox exercised their $3.75 million option on the right-handed reliever for 2012 on Monday.
Frasor, the 34-year-old Chicago native, came over from the Blue Jays with Zach Stewart on July 27 in exchange for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen. He posted a 5.09 ERA with the White Sox but finished with a 3.60 ERA overall.
Whatever players end up on the White Sox, they will be working with a staff growing together on the job. They also will be imparting their share of vast baseball knowledge and energetic dedication with this next South Side squad.
"It's an outstanding organization, from top to bottom, and one I'm very thankful to be part of," McEwing said. "Robin is a very knowledgeable baseball mind, and I'm looking forward to this."
"With all of these guys, they see things differently," Ventura said. "They are workers, for one, and it's a very important part to come in and do the work and be excited to do the work. Players feel that and understand that. They're qualified, and I totally trust them to be able to do what we've asked them to do."
"He knows the game of baseball," said Baines of Ventura. "But it all comes down to what the players do. You can prepare the players, but they are the ones who have to play the game."