Ventura hints at plans for 2012 season

CHICAGO – With spring training just over three weeks away, new White Sox manager Robin Ventura has started to solidify plans for the upcoming season.

Ventura is still looking toward Alejandro De Aza to take over the leadoff spot, but said Thursday that Gordon Beckham could be another candidate for that job.

“Really if Gordon could probably do it depending on how he feels about at and how he feels in spring training,” Ventura said. “As far as getting on base, he probably has more power than you think of for a leadoff guy but if you’re looking at options he’s one of those guys up there.”

Ventura said that for now, he wants Alexei Ramirez lower in the order and isn’t considering him as a leadoff candidate.

Ventura also confirmed what he has said on radio this week and is looking at Matt Thornton as the favorite for the closer role. The new manager is fully aware of Thornton’s struggles in the role early last season and will let spring training go a long way toward deciding if the left-hander ended up with the job again.

As for the rotation, Ventura is already set on a five-man staff with John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Jake Peavy, Chris Sale and Phil Humber.

Another of Ventura’s goals is to get Brent Lillibridge as much playing time as possible off the bench. He stopped short, though, of calling the super utility man an option as a backup shortstop.

For the first time, Ventura is also saying that Alex Rios could be an option for left field, allowing De Aza to take over in center. Rios has a history of taking bad routes to balls and the defense would seem to be better with De Aza in center and Rios on a corner.

Ventura is just anxious to apply all the ideas that have come to him this winter.

“Looking back to the process you get the job and the hooplah and then there’s nothing for a long time,” Ventura said when asked if he’s ready for spring training to begin. White Sox pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 22.

“You can tinker and get ready and get schedules ready for spring training all you want. It will be nice to get on the field and see people do baseball things instead of looking at sheets of paper.”