CHICAGO -- While it might be too late for some Chicago White Sox fans, manager Robin Ventura is operating with a much harder edge about him these days.
On Wednesday, Ventura was ejected after arguing an interference call on Melky Cabrera that negated a stolen base by Adam Eaton. The White Sox went on to their sixth consecutive defeat by the end of the night.
On Thursday, Ventura became irate over a popup that fell in short center field between Eaton and shortstop Alexei Ramirez that easily could have been caught by either player. Typically the outfielder takes over on plays of that kind since it’s easier to make a play moving forward than backpedaling. The White Sox went on to their seventh consecutive defeat by the end of the night.
According to a source, Ventura aired out Eaton in the dugout with an expletive-filled admonishment in the middle of the seventh inning. Typically, Ventura would wait until he is out of public view before offering some emphatic constructive criticism, but on Thursday he apparently felt as if he couldn’t wait.
After the game, Ventura went on the record saying “That’s just bad,” when talking about the Eaton-Ramirez play. Eaton, on the other hand, reacted by saying, “It didn’t hurt us.” The Pittsburgh Pirates did not score a run in the inning.
Ventura didn’t go into details about what he said to Eaton after the play Thursday, but he did say Friday that his center fielder should be taking charge in those situations.
“It always affects things; it affects the rest of the game,” Ventura said Friday. “For me, I know in talking to him, it affects everything that goes with it because now the guy gets on base. You’re always dealing with the next hitter. For Jeff (Samardzija) being out there, you don’t get that out, you’re now dealing with another hitter when there’s a possibility of maybe sending him back out. Any time plays aren’t made, it does affect the rest of the game.”
The play caused Samardzija to make seven extra pitches in the seventh inning. Instead of ending the inning with 107 pitches and possibly returning for the eighth, his night ended at 114 pitches. The Pirates scored the go-ahead run the next inning off the White Sox’s bullpen.
While the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres already have fired their managers this season, there is no indication the White Sox are prepared to go that route in the coming days. But with the team’s losing streak at seven games and miscues aplenty from what looks to be an uninspired team, that status could change.
“Any time somebody has ever said that it can’t get any worse, it can get worse,” Ventura said. “I remember my first year (as a player) we went through a stretch we lost probably 10 (straight) and they said it couldn’t get worse. Well, we got no-hit the next night. It can always get worse."
Ventura's details were slightly fuzzy. The White Sox were no-hit by the Kansas City Royals' Bret Saberhagen in 1991, Ventura's second full season. The defeat was the club's seventh consecutive of what would be a nine-game losing streak. But his point was well taken.
“You have to stay disciplined in the game and come in here with a positive attitude and ready to go," Ventura said. "It’s easier said than done on some points, but you’re pros and you come in here and you expect to turn around and have a good effort. That’s required of everybody. There’s no exception to that.”
Once a beloved member of the organization for his play on the field and his good-guy demeanor, Ventura has been the subject of ruthless criticism from some areas of the fan base. But that doesn’t make him think any less of the job he is holding and the responsibility he has.
“If it was easy, anybody would be doing it,” Ventura said. “Being through it, I’m tough enough to go through it.”