There’s been plenty of smoke and trade rumors this week, but Robin Ventura doesn’t get the sense a deal is forthcoming.
The White Sox manager acknowledged on Thursday afternoon his role in trade dealings is minimal as general manager Rick Hahn and his staff have fielded all the phone calls, with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana believed to have drawn the most interest. Jon Heyman reported Thursday the New York Yankees are the latest team to have inquired about Sale’s availability.
As busy as Hahn has been this week, his phone apparently ringing off the hook, Ventura isn’t convinced the White Sox will be sellers come Monday’s 3 p.m. deadline.
While it could simply be another round of posturing as teams angle to best position themselves, the White Sox headed into Thursday’s finale against the Cubs 50-51 with at least a pulse when it comes to the postseason.
“This week probably led to some more phone calls, of people calling just to see what's going on with us,” Ventura said. “I think our guys should look at it as a nice thing that people are calling and asking about you because that means people want you. But I don't want to see anybody go out of here. I don't think that's going to happen.”
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The White Sox managed to stay afloat even though Sale was gone for five games with a 4-1 mark in his absence. That included two walkoff victories over the Detroit Tigers and a pair of wins against the Cubs on Monday and Tuesday. Ventura acknowledged a win behind Sale on Thursday would be a big boost as the club heads into a three-game series at the Minnesota Twins on Friday.
The run comes almost a year after the White Sox rolled off seven straight victories to inch their way back into the wild-card race in 2015. That week of victories convinced the White Sox to hold off from trading free-agent-to-be Jeff Samardzija. The next four games could very well decide the fate of several players as Hahn said last Thursday the club is open-minded in trade talks and sick of being “mired in mediocrity.”
“I hope we do it again,” Ventura said. “That decision isn’t mine and I’m not taking or making any phone calls. For me I hope we do it again.”
Last year the White Sox collapsed after they didn’t trade Samardzija, who fell apart and went 1-8 with a 9.24 ERA in his first eight starts after the deadline. The White Sox rotation is in much better shape than last season’s with the recent success of James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez. The team also is hopeful Carlos Rodon could return on Sunday to accompany Sale and Quintana.
Though the offense has been inconsistent, the group has improved and finally has another much-needed left-handed hitter for the middle of the order in Justin Morneau. So while the White Sox bullpen is beat up pretty good, Ventura thinks his club is better prepared for the stretch run.
“We’re probably better situated of sustaining that than last year,” Ventura said.
Rick Renteria returned to Wrigley Field this week, but instead of greeting the media in a large, well-lit room outside the palatial new home clubhouse, the former Cubs manager sat in a folding chair in the squeezed confines of the visitor’s clubhouse. The cramped setup even made the old Wrigley Field interview room/dungeon, where Renteria held press conferences as the Cubs’ manager in 2014, look spacious.
But with Al Green and some other soul hits of the 1970s blaring from a speaker in his locker, Renteria — who’s in his first year as the White Sox bench coach — said he’s not concerned with when he’ll get another opportunity to manage after being pushed out for Joe Maddon as the Cubs accelerated their rebuilding process following the 2014 season.
“I came out here to do the job I’m doing right now,” Renteria said. “I’ve always believed that whatever goes on after that kind of takes care of itself. You can’t really control those things and that’s how I’m viewing it.
“I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing right now and whatever comes in the future comes in the future. And right now I can’t control that.”
The 54-year-old Renteria, who spent six seasons as a coach for the San Diego Padres before managing the Cubs to a 73-89 record two years ago, took a down-the-middle approach to that question about if his return to Wrigley Field brought back thoughts of managing again. He said he’s shook hands and received well-wishes from a few of his former players, and didn’t mention any animosity to how his exit from Clark and Addison went down.
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Whether or not Renteria gets another managerial gig remains to be seen. But his brief stint as skipper on the north side of Chicago is one he said he looks back upon fondly.
“I thought it was a good time,” Renteria said. “It was a lot of positive energy, a lot of possibilities and it was a great experience. Can’t deny it, it was a great experience.”
Chris Sale will be back on the mound on Thursday night for the White Sox after serving a five-game suspension for a well-known clubhouse incident.
According to Chicago native Chance the Rapper — who was recently named a club ambassador for the South Siders — Sale being back guarantees a win over the Cubs in the Crosstown Classic.
The up-and-coming rap star threw some shade at the Cubs on his Twitter page on Thursday:
With so many celebrities from Chicago supporting the Cubs, it's nice to see that someone has the White Sox back.