Facts, trends and stats about Ventura's first year managing Sox

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Facts, trends and stats about Ventura's first year managing Sox

With spring training just about a month away, let's take a look at some points of interest regarding the second-year White Sox skipper: a few things to look back at and think about going forward.

1. Late in 2011, the White Sox realized they were roughly forty-five feet off in their judgement of who should be managing the team (at least according to measurements taken from 1989-1997). They obviously needed someone a little more fiery.

Fiery? In their first seasons as a major league manager, Robin Ventura (4) was ejected twice as many times as Ozzie Guillen (2). Also, did we forget the showdown with Nolan Ryan? Two things on that memorable (or forgettable) incident:

- One, Aug. 4 of the upcoming season will mark the 20th anniversary of Ventura getting several hits off (from?) the Hall of Fame hurler (unspectacularly, the game will be in Detroit).
- Two, Ventura right now is still younger than Nolan Ryan was when he placed the White Sox third baseman in a headlock in Arlington that fateful day. And he'll still be younger through the end of the 2013 season.

2. Ventura is deathly afraid of Jeff Francoeur.

Ok, not really. But Frenchy was issued more intentional walks by White Sox pitching than any other batter in 2012, with four. During the DH era (1973-current), the White Sox intentionally walked a batter four or more times in a season on just fifteen occasions (to 14 different batters).

Of these fifteen seasons, Francoeur's 81 OPS is by far the worst. Second worst was John Briggs of the Twins and Brewers in 1975, who was IBB'd four times (116 OPS). The average OPS of the non-Francoeur seasons was 146.

Regardless of Francoeur, Ventura ordered only 29 IBB on the season, the fifth-lowest total in the American League. Under Guillen, the Sox were perennially among the American League leaders in IBB issued (including a league-leading 50 in 2011).

The one player to be walked 4 times in a season on two occasions by Sox pitching? Mickey Tettleton in 1992 and 1993.

3. Plenty of pinch running.

The 2012 White Sox paced the Majors with 64 pinch runners used, a full 19 more than the next highest total (Minnesota). Unsurprisingly, the Major League leader in being pinch run for was Paul Konerko (25), followed by Billy Butler (20).

4. No White Sox team in franchise history boasted more pitching appearances than the 2012 bunch.

The 628 pitcher games tied 2000 (that's 3.88 pitchers used per game) for most of any Southsider squad. And Ventura kicked it up a notch once rosters expanded in September, using 4.81 pitchers per game during the final month (plus October). In the first eleven games of September, he averaged exactly six pitchers used per game.

5. Ventura's White Sox posted a 71.7 percent stolen base success rate. Much better than the recent records of Ozzie Guillen (whose teams posted three of the five lowest single-season SB rates in the AL from 2007 through 2012), but still below league average (75 percent).

One notable trend was Ventura's reluctance to steal third, going only 23 at that bag. The other 107 White Sox stolen bases were of second. Two players in the AL stole 20 or more bases in 2012 without once taking third: Alex Rios and Alexei Ramirez.

6. Ventura seemed much more comfortable than Guillen giving the 3-0 green light. The 2012 Sox went 4-14 with two home runs (the team's first two 3-0 homers since Jim Thome did it twice in 2007). That may not seem like much, but consider the fact that they went a combined 5-17 over the previous five seasons (12-33 overall under Guillen with a 3-0 count).

7. Ventura is a .300 lifetime hitter against pitchers he managed in 2012:

- 1-6 vs Jake Peavy
- 1-2 vs Brian Bruney, with a home run
- 1-1 vs Will Ohman, with a double
- 0-1 vs Brett Myers

8. A July 14 loss in Kansas City prevented Ventura from becoming the first Sox skipper to get a birthday win since Terry Bevington on July 27, 1995. He'll get another chance in Philadelphia this summer on the last day before the All-Star break.

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

David Robertson, Nate Jones return to White Sox after WBC victory

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Having experienced a playoff-like atmosphere at the World Baseball Classic, David Robertson and Nate Jones already feel prepared for the regular season. 

The two relievers returned to White Sox camp on Friday morning bearing gold medals from a Team USA WBC title run that concluded on Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Robertson, who recorded the final three outs of the clinching victory, said he's glad to be back and won't need much of a tune-up to be ready for the April 3 season opener.

"Back up to speed?" Robertson said. "More like slow down and get ready for the season. I'll probably play catch (Friday). I didn't throw (Thursday), I spent the day traveling. Probably play catch today, and be ready to throw (Saturday). If I needed to throw today, I could. I feel like I'm season ready right now."

"It feels good to be back. It's been a long trip doing this WBC, so it's good to be back and relax a little bit. Have a couple days before we start the season."

Both Jones and Robertson appeared four times each for Team USA with similar results. Each allowed a solo home run but nothing else. Jones said he brought his gold medal back to camp because he isn't yet ready to put it in his safety deposit box. His favorite moments of the tournament were brought on by raucous crowds.

"Once you get a crowd chanting USA that was a pretty cool moment," Jones said. "You're proud of representing your country, and once they did that, it all kind of set in, like, ‘Wow, this is happening.'

"It's just pure excitement, everybody going crazy."

Jones and Robertson said they're pleased to have returned to the relative tranquility of White Sox camp after they lived out of a suitcase for the previous 18 days. Both were set to meet with pitching coach Don Cooper and manager Rick Renteria to discuss their upcoming schedule. Jones said he expected to throw a side session on Friday in front of Cooper to have his mechanics reviewed. Robertson last pitched on Wednesday and didn't know when he'd throw again.

"They've been busy, obviously, with Robbie finishing up the last game," Renteria said. "We'll see how the schedule lines up in terms of their usage for the remaining 9-10 days."

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Robertson is pretty sure he won't need much work. Whereas the team's closer normally waits until the first week of March to appear in a game, Robertson has pitched in plenty this spring. Each of the last four has had a ton more intensity than any normal Cactus League work.

"It felt like playoff baseball really early in the year," Robertson said. "Just coming from Miami, trying to win a couple days in there was really hard. Fans were really loud. That place was a very intense environment, and it didn't feel like you were the home team at all.

"It felt like (a home game) when we were in San Diego We were the home team there, and when we got to L.A., same thing. Although, I will say that when we were playing the Japanese, it erupted a couple times when they had some big moments in their game. It was just a lot of fun to play in this whole event. It was definitely more than I expected."

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

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Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."