Ventura finishes behind Melvin, Showalter for AL Manager of the Year


Ventura finishes behind Melvin, Showalter for AL Manager of the Year

Robin Ventura drew praise from around baseball for his work with the White Sox in 2012, his first season at any level as a manager. While the Sox faded down the stretch, Ventura guided them into a playoff race few expected to materialize. He also oversaw the rebound seasons of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy, three players who struggled mightily in Ozzie Guillen's final year on the White Sox bench.

"Like they say in football, some guys have a nose for the football. Some guys have a nose for managing. I think he does, I think he's done a great job, a terrific job," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in September. "I don't know this, but I think he's kind of let them play, just play the game, just go play the game. He's not pushing. He's figured it out pretty quick, really. And it helps when you got good players."

New York's Nick Swisher, who was embroiled in a public spat with Guillen after leaving Chicago, saw from afar the same shift with Ventura managing the White Sox.

"It seems like he's got them all nice and laid back, which is very different than what it was before," Swisher said in August. "But whatever he's doing over there seems to be working."

When it came down to Manger of the Year honors, though, Ventura was fighting an uphill battle. Oakland's Bob Melvin garnered the award after managing the Athletics to an improbable AL West title, taking out the powerhouse Rangers on the final day of the season. And Baltimore's Buck Showalter finished just behind Melvin in the voting after taking the Orioles from the depths of the AL East to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

I want to congratulate Bob Melvin on winning the award," Ventura said in a statement released by the White Sox. "Bob and Buck (Showalter) did great jobs this season and both really were deserving. For me to be considered for this award, especially in my first season, is a great honor but really its more of a reflection on the players and coaches. They put in the hard work from day one of spring training until the last out of the season and made my job easier.

Ventura finished third, and while the 2012 White Sox won't consider themselves a success, looking at the big picture Ventura navigated his first season fairly well.

Leyland -- who wound up taking Detroit to the World Series -- offered an explanation for part of Ventura's managerial success back in September.

"He was smart enough to know that this place, probably, at the time he got here just needed to get settled in," Leyland explained. "Just settle it in, without a lot of whatever you want to call it. He was smart enough to do that."

Chris Sale: White Sox struggles 'falls on the players,' not Robin Ventura


Chris Sale: White Sox struggles 'falls on the players,' not Robin Ventura

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The calls for Robin Ventura’s job have once again grown louder as a lengthy White Sox slump continues.

With the team out of town for the next two weeks, fans have taken to social media to voice their frustrations with the fifth-year manager. They have also begun an online petition calling for Ventura’s head. And there’s a pretty good chance local radio talk shows will be filled with callers demanding the same early this week.

But as their slide continued Sunday, the team’s most influential player insisted Ventura’s leadership has had nothing to do with a six-game losing streak that was extended with another blown lead and a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

“I don’t think he gave up any runs,” starting pitcher Chris Sale said. “I don’t think he made any errors and he’s in the dugout the whole time. It’s on us to win games. I understand people -- I’ll keep it that -- want to point fingers and find blame. But at the end of the day it falls on the players. We have to find a way to turn it around. We’re going to keep fighting. It will turn. We have too much morale, chemistry and too much talent. Just a rough patch.”

This patch comes at a time when fans are skeptical about what kind of team they have in front of them. Many believe the team’s hot April to be a tease. They wonder if this team is headed down a similar path to the past three seasons as the White Sox have dropped 14 of 18 with their six-game lead vanished and turned into a one-game deficit.

Players from the 27-24 squad continue to insist they will turn things around. Alex Avila said the preparation has been there and he doesn’t expect a drop off. Sale said the confidence and chemistry are present. And Dioner Navarro and Todd Frazier like how the White Sox have continued to battle as evidenced by the close proximity of their losses -- 11 of the 14 have come by two runs or fewer.

This of course isn’t new territory for Ventura, who spent all of last summer answering questions about his job security. He headed into the season listed as one of the odds-on favorites to be the first manager in the majors fired. But Ventura was completely removed from those types of lists after the team’s quick start.

Ventura said Sunday morning that the reaction is expected for his position and he won’t let it distract him from preparing.

“That’s part of the action,” Ventura said. “I’m in here trying to work. …

“I’m just doing my work.

“I don’t feel any more pressure than there already is. That’s just part of the job and you do it.”

Royals delete sympathy tweet to White Sox following sweep


Royals delete sympathy tweet to White Sox following sweep

For the third straight game, the White Sox bullpen was unable to hold off a late rally by Kansas City. Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Royals extended the White Sox losing streak to six games and gave the Royals a three-game sweep over the White Sox.

But the Royals weren't done with the White Sox just yet. They took to Twitter to offer their "support" to the struggling South-Siders, posting a GIF of White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera hugging Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in a previous series, and asking if the White Sox need a hug. The tweet has since been deleted, but no need to fear, we have a screenshot for you. 

Take a look.

The White Sox could use a lot more than a hug at this point. 

Although this has been a difficult stretch, there are 111 games remaining in the season and the White Sox trail the Royals by only one game. These two teams play 13 more times before the season ends, so there is still plenty of baseball left to be played.

Hopefully what happened in Kansas City stays in Kansas City. 

White Sox bullpen falters again as Royals complete sweep


White Sox bullpen falters again as Royals complete sweep

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Welcome to Kansas City, where all the impossibly bad things that could happen to the White Sox always seem to materialize.

The White Sox bullpen coughed up a lead for a third consecutive game on Sunday afternoon to extend a miserable losing streak to six with a 5-4 loss to the Kansas City Royals in front of 36,624 at Kauffman Stadium.

Chris Sale was in line for his 10th win in 11 tries until the Royals rallied for three eighth-inning runs against Nate Jones and Matt Albers.

Instead of achieving what would have been a defining sweep of Kansas City, the White Sox were swept and head to New York with no answers on how to rediscover the winnings ways that led them to victories in 23 of their first 33 games.

Once a fortress of dependability, the team’s bullpen allowed 14 earned runs, 15 hits and walked eight in 6 1/3 innings during the three-game sweep.

“Some of these, you scratch your head and it’s hard to fathom,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It’s baseball and it makes it great and suck all at the same time.”

Kansas City’s bats woke up late Sunday similar to the previous two days.

After scoring six times in their final three at-bats on Friday and an improbable seven more in a ninth-inning rally on Saturday, they immediately pressured Jones, who also allowed a run Friday.

Trailing by two, Lorenzo Cain brought the crowd to life with an opposite-field solo homer on a 3-2 pitch from Jones. Eric Hosmer then scooted a 2-2 slider down the left-field line for a double. Jones walked Kendrys Morales and Paulo Orlando singled to load the bases. Brett Eibner walked to force in the tying run and Cheslor Cuthbert’s infield single off Albers put the Royals ahead.

Kansas City closer Wade Davis quickly took care of the White Sox in the ninth.

Even as the losses continue to pile up, now 14 in 18 games, players insist they haven’t lost faith. That of course which would be a big problem if it were the case, catcher Dioner Navarro said.

“If it is, (we’re screwed),” Navarro said. “Bottom line, everyone’s mentality is in the right place. We’ve been scoring runs. We’ve been pitching well. These three days, unbelievable. But it’s over with. Off to New York, play the Mets and keep grinding.”

Another stunning failure by the bullpen snuffed out a stopper-esque start by Chris Sale, who had the White Sox in position to end their streak.

The team’s most consistent force all season, Sale overcame an early rough patch and pitched out of big jams in the fourth and seventh innings, the latter coming with him at the 115-pitch mark.

Whereas some of his rotation mates have struggled, the lineup has experienced slumbers and the bullpen has had issues for the past three weeks, Sale has delivered consistency in all but one start.

The four-time All-Star’s defense did its part to help out early.

Austin Jackson and Tyler Saladino each made big plays in the first, including combining for an inning-ending double play. Melky Cabrera also turned in a gem in the second inning with an outfield assist while Adam Eaton made a sliding grab to end the third.

Those contributions helped Sale navigate some difficultly against a team that has challenged him the past few seasons.

He certainly looked as if he were headed for more trouble in the first inning when Whit Merrifield singled and the Royals capitalized on a dropped pop up by Jose Abreu as he slammed into the dugout railing. With new life, Cain ripped the next Sale pitch to deep center for an RBI double and he scored on Hosmer’s RBI single to make it 2-0.

Sale didn’t budge another inch, particularly after the White Sox gave him a 3-2 lead. The second of Jackson’s two RBIs made it 4-2 in the seventh. Navarro and Eaton also drove in runs.

That appeared to be enough offense for Sale, who allowed two earned runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out seven and walked only two.

Unfortunately, Sale’s bullpen didn’t offer the same stability. But Sale believes his bullpen will bounce back soon.

“Baseball is not easy,” Sale said. “I’ve been there before. I’ve been that guy. You regroup, collect yourself, look at yourself in the mirror and push forward.

“If our bullpen is our worry, we’re in a great spot. They’ve had a few off nights and it’s going to happen. Can’t expect perfection every time out. But I like our chances of those guys getting it together.”