1/25/2014 6:00 P.M. ET
Hahn fields questions about Sox moves
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Robin Ventura wasn't the only one peppered with questions by fans during Saturday morning's SoxFest Town Hall Meeting, as general manager Rick Hahn joined Ventura on stage. Two other topics of discussion centered on Adam Dunn's struggles and the catching situation.
With questions about Tyler Flowers, Josh Phegley and Adrian Nieto behind the plate comes questions about why A.J. Pierzynski was allowed to leave after 2012. Hahn understands the interest in and the devotion to the catcher, who was a stalwart of the 2005 World Series champions and for the seven years that followed.
"You have arguably an iconic type who had a lot of success for a long time," Hahn said. "Then, you follow that up with a performance that was subpar at that position with his replacements, it's understandable people are going to have questions about that.
"It's fine. It's part of the job to make sure that we are as transparent as we can be and explain the rationale behind our decision."
Hahn also understood the fans' expressed displeasure coming off of last year's debacle.
"Look, we lost 99 games last year and these people have come out in the dead of winter to show their support for the team. But, at the same time, [they] have some questions on their mind. It's completely understandable," Hahn said. "Obviously, people who are willing to spend their time and money in January to come out to something like this are extraordinarily passionate about the club.
"They are extraordinarily invested in the club. And the ability to sit there and answer their questions until there are no more is a nice opportunity for us to make sure we get our message to the people who care the most."
Ventura wants to handle issues directly
CHICAGO -- White Sox fans want Robin Ventura to be as fiery during this upcoming 2014 season as they were during Saturday morning's SoxFest Town Hall Meeting.
That particular criticism stood as one aimed at Ventura during a 45-minute session at the Palmer House Hilton's Red Lacquer Room, with a much feistier crowd in attendance compared to Friday's representation. While Ventura and general manager Rick Hahn understand the fans' desire to see him become more openly critical of his team during underachieving times, airing out his group publicly just doesn't fit Ventura's style.
"It's just better to be direct, and I would rather not have you guys do my dirty work. I'd rather do it myself," said Ventura about choosing not to use the media to call out his players. "It doesn't mean I don't care or I'm not mad. You realize that you are on TV and it's stuff you can't take back. I prefer to do it inside."
"When things aren't going well, it makes you feel better if you see people caring as much in uniform as you care when you are watching it at home or at the ballpark," Hahn said. "I just think it's important for people to understand that what he does behind closed doors displays that level of passion, fire and discipline that you want to see."
One fan asked Ventura about having credibility in the 2014 clubhouse after losing 99 games in 2013, a question that doesn't really go along with Ventura's strong connection to the players expressed by the players themselves. Another fan brought up Ventura's low-key demeanor, explaining how he was trying to figure out if Ventura was the right man for the job.
"I feel I am," Ventura responded.
Based on the multi-year extension announced on Friday, the White Sox agree. Hahn jumped in to defend Ventura when his passion was questioned -- not that Ventura was offended by the inquiry. The White Sox clearly like Ventura's demeanor and process.
"Quite frankly, although it's not satisfying, perhaps from a fan standpoint, we want that handled behind closed doors," Hahn said. "It's more effective when you have that conversation one on one with a player, as opposed to airing it out in public. The [players appreciate] it and they tend to respond better to it."
Don't take Hahn's assessment as a subtle dig at previous manager Ozzie Guillen, who had a more in-your-face style. Hahn pointed out that Guillen found great managerial success, but just traveled a different road than Ventura.
"Not everybody likes every tactic or every style. Everybody will have an opinion about it," Ventura said. "I get what they're saying. You would feel probably more satisfaction if you saw somebody do it rather than hear about it. Nobody is being thrown under the bus. I'd rather do it myself and not have other people do it."
Dunn enjoying movie success
CHICAGO -- Adam Dunn will not be able to leave Spring Training in Arizona to attend the Academy Awards in California on Mar. 2 because he'll have work to do for the regular season. But Dunn will be showing full support for the movie Dallas Buyers Club, one of nine Best Picture nominees -- and a film in which he had a small part as bartender Neddie Jay.
Dunn is an investor in his friend Joe Newcomb's production company, which produced this movie that ended up with six Oscar nominations -- including Matthew McConaughey for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Jared Leto for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Dunn's two scenes were overlooked by the Academy.
"It seems like that always happens. The Gold Glove, every year I get snubbed on that, so I'm used to it," said Dunn with a wry smile. "That's pretty special, being the first movie. To get six Oscar nominations, that's pretty cool. It's been a fun little thing."
White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who knew about Dunn's involvement in the project, went to see the movie with his wife, Stephanie, on Friday night after SoxFest festivities. He enjoyed the film, even with the minor distraction of seeing his designated hitter working behind the bar.
"All of a sudden, it took my focus off the movie -- and all of a sudden, you're watching him act," Ventura said. "He's believable. He looks like he would be doing that job. He looks like he fits that role.
"Just physically what they did to prepare for that is just amazing. You would think there was some special effect, but it was an interesting movie."
Minoso gets well-deserved recognition
CHICAGO -- Minnie Minoso was the star of the show during Saturday's SoxFest seminar entitled "El Béisbol Con Orgullo: The Cuban Connection." It was a session done in both Spanish and English, involving Minoso, Dayan Viciedo, Jose Abreu and Alexei Ramirez.
Minoso, who played 12 years for the White Sox but has been an ambassador for the team and the game for many years after, received a standing ovation when he walked on stage. He also received praise from Ramirez, through a translator, at the end of the 45-minute session.
"First of all, I want to make it clear how grateful [we are] and [talk about] our gratitude to Minnie Minoso [for] opening the doors for Cuban players," Ramirez said. "If it wasn't for him, we couldn't be here. So thank you, Minnie."
One fan talked about sitting next to Minoso during the 2005 American League Championship Series at a game in Anaheim and how fans were hounding him for autographs. But Minoso asked to wait until after the inning because he just wanted to watch baseball. That moment showed the fan how much Minnie loved the game.