ARLINGTON, Texas -- It’s not how Robin Ventura would have drawn up the perfect ending to his first game as Chicago White Sox manager, but Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers was a mostly positive experience.
“It’s not the same as when you play,” Ventura, a former All-Star third baseman, said. “When you play there are different things that you go through. This is more mental, thinking about things that are coming up, trying to look ahead and how you react to it.”
Ventura, whose wife and four children were in Texas to watch his first game, and his players were in agreement that it was nice to get the first one out of the way.
“It was a good baseball game,” Ventura said. “At some time, you figure we were going to lose a game this year. You don’t like losing. We got guys on late, we just didn’t get them in.”
Ventura is not afraid to do things his way, as he has confounded the media by not publicly naming a closer. The truth likely being that he is not sure if any one pitcher he has can fill the role on an everyday basis. On Friday he used Addison Reed in the seventh inning and Matt Thornton in the eighth, leading to speculation that he would have used rookie Hector Santiago to close if the team would have taken a late lead.
“He just told us to be ready all of the time,” Santiago said. “Be ready for our turn, be ready for the phone call.”
The day took a strange turn for Ventura before batting practice as former arch rival Nolan Ryan came by the White Sox clubhouse to wish the new manager good luck.The two had not talked since they fought on the field in 1993 after Ryan buzzed the third baseman with a purpose pitch and Ventura charged the mound. The rest became urban legend in Texas as Ryan put a headlock on Ventura, hitting him on the top of the head multiple times.
“[Ryan] was in the hallway and we just talked,” Ventura said. “I congratulated him for the last couple of years, he’s done a great job. It was nice to say, ‘Hey,’ and congratulate him, and it wasn’t anything more than that.”
The new Sox leader will have his ups and downs with this team but it is apparent he will not lose his sense of humor.
“It was fun to get it going, but I can say it’s better to be a player,” quipped Ventura.