01/26/12 9:44 PM EST
Ventura weighs in on 2012 team slogan
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
White Sox manager Robin Ventura laughed when asked about his marketing and advertising background on Thursday, saying he has nothing to do with picking the slogan.
He did give his take on what this appreciation theme means, though.
"Having heard it for the first time, in my mind, the way I look at it is, appreciate nuances of baseball and how it's played," Ventura said. "We are more of a team.
"By not signing any free agents and the hoopla that goes with that, I appreciate a group that works together as a team and all that goes into that. I'm just telling you what I think and looking at our team, I like that. I'm not for the most part an 'In your face, look at me' sort of person."
Ventura in process of appraising his club
CHICAGO -- SoxFest marks the unofficial start to the upcoming White Sox season, and not just because Friday's high of 40 degrees probably will be similar to the April 13 weather for the U.S. Cellular Field home opener in a few months.
In this weekend's instance at the Palmer House Hilton, it's a chance for new manager Robin Ventura to reunite with some players he already knows and introduce himself to a few of the new charges. But just because Ventura didn't fly around the country for meet and greets during the offseason doesn't mean he hasn't been putting quite a bit of thought into the 2012 version of this team.
Ventura was asked about a few key matters during an interview session with White Sox beat reporters on Thursday and came up with a few pre-Spring Training solutions. The White Sox starting rotation, which looks to be one of its strongest suits, seems all but set with John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. According to Ventura, Philip Humber has the advantage at No. 5 over any of the young newcomers such as Nestor Molina or returnees such as Zach Stewart or Dylan Axelrod.
"Phil would be that leader heading into the clubhouse," Ventura said of Humber, whose breakout 2011 effort resulted in a 9-9 record and 3.75 ERA. "I don't see anything changing with that at this point. We will see during Spring Training, but I'm confident in Phil in doing that No. 5 position."
Humber posted an 8-5 record with a 3.10 ERA and .218 opponents average against in the first half, but had a 1-4 mark, 5.01 ERA and .287 average against after the All-Star break.
Reliever Matt Thornton's season was slightly reversed, as the left-hander posted a 2.45 ERA over 52 games after May 1 following an 8.64 ERA in April. Thornton also had blown saves in his first four chances, although he didn't have the best of luck behind him.
Even with that slow start, Ventura tabbed Thornton on Thursday as his leading 2012 closer candidate over rookie Addison Reed and Jesse Crain.
"I'm leaning on Matt doing that," Ventura said. "I don't think those type of things are concrete. I would like to see him do that, but we'll see how that goes in Spring Training with him and how he feels."
In Ventura's estimation, the team doesn't have a true utility infielder at this point. Brent Lillibridge earned high praise from Ventura for his versatility and talent, but he wasn't identified as a possible backup shortstop. Ventura said that Alex Rios could see time in both left field and center field, and as of now, Alejandro De Aza looks to be the leadoff man.
Of course, it's just late January and things could change by the end of Cactus League action.
"Gordon [Beckham] could probably do it depending on how he feels about that and how he looks in Spring Training, as far as getting on base," Ventura said of the leadoff slot. "He has more power than normal leadoff guys, but he's one of them."
A Prince comes to the AL Central
CHICAGO -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura had a slightly comical reaction when asked about the Tigers' addition of Prince Fielder during Thursday evening's interview session with the team's beat reporters.
"Who?" said a sarcastic Ventura.
Of course, Ventura knows all about Fielder, his immense abilities and what he means to the Tigers through the nine-year deal announced earlier Thursday. Even with Fielder's addition, Ventura isn't exactly phoning in the upcoming season from the White Sox side.
"He deserves what he got. He has earned it and that's great," Ventura said of Fielder. "But we are still going to play. There are a lot of other people to play in baseball besides them, and they will be tough games [against Detroit] and a challenge to handle.
"This is a team game. It's how you play as a team."
Hard-throwing Reed not looking for attention
CHICAGO -- Addison Reed's first big league Spring Training could end with the 23-year-old claiming the White Sox closer's job.
But the hard-throwing right-hander doesn't exactly consider himself a seasoned veteran after 7 1/3 innings in the Majors last September.
"I'm just taking the same approach," Reed said on Thursday. "I'm just kind of lying low and I'm not going to be the one in the middle or the center of attention, yelling and talking all the time.
"Just sit back and if somebody asks me a question, I'm going to answer it. I'm laying low and relaxing and hanging out and having a fun time."
Third to first
With snow and sub-zero temperatures highlighting past SoxFest weekends, the relative warmth welcoming the players to Chicago is an unexpected bonus. Native Californian and White Sox manager Robin Ventura complained about the cold on Thursday, but fellow California native and closer candidate Addison Reed liked the difference.
"I'm a fan of the cold weather," Reed said with a laugh. "It is 80 in Southern California right now but I don't mind this change."
During Gordon Beckham's sales calls made to season-ticket holders Thursday morning at U.S. Cellular Field, one fan sort of raked Beckham over the coals for the team's 2011 disappointment.
Beckham also talked to a number of excited fans for 2012, and one who even asked him about trade rumors concerning the second baseman going to Boston. "I'm still here," Beckham said with a laugh.
The White Sox will televise six Cactus League games, with five on Comcast SportsNet and one on WGN. WSCR, the club's flagship radio station, will air nine games (including four interactive broadcasts), while the White Sox also will have 12 additional webcast Spring Training games free on whitesox.com. That number is up from nine in 2011.