Mike Piazza thinks Robin Ventura has all the intangibles to manage and isnt surprised by his former teammates success in the dugout.
The former catcher, and future Hall of Famer, played with Ventura -- who earlier this week finished third in the American League manager of the year vote -- for three seasons with the New York Mets from 1999-2001.
Piazza distinctly remembers Venturas serious demeanor. But he also recalled a story of how the former third baseman had the ability to keep teammates loose in the clubhouse.
We were playing and we werent necessarily in a losing streak, but maybe we were a little flat, and he came in from third base and actually slid into the dugout at Shea (Stadium), Piazza said on Saturday night before he emceed induction ceremonies for the National Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. The dugout was flat and all this gravel and stones were flying and he was like Wake up and started yelling. It was really funny. It was a very unorthodox way of getting our attention and kind of lighting a fire under us. Thats the way he is.
Piazza and Venturas three seasons together in New York produced two trips to the National League championship series and one to the World Series.
Their time together had him convinced Ventura -- a surprise hire when it was announced he would take over for Ozzie Guillen in November 2011 -- would be successful enough for Piazza to convey his beliefs to White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf at a similar event last year. Piazza heard enough positives this season to believe those reasons were critical in the White Sox winning 85 games as they rebounded from several disappointing seasons.
It was interesting, Piazza said of the hire. I felt like he was going to do pretty well. Real intellectual guy. Understands the game. Understands the Xs and Os, but also seems like he has a good presence in the clubhouse. By the response of the team guys obviously like he was playing for him.