By Jim Owczarski
Frustrated by a lack of production by several high-priced players last season -- and by a perceived lack of attention by the manager in not benching those players - a White Sox fan asked new manager Robin Ventura during a question and answer session Saturday afternoon at SoxFest how, and when, he would sit a player down.
Ventura lightened the mood with a bit of humor to start his answer, saying you simply invite the player over to the bench. He then related how he had been benched at various points in his 16-year career.
Every time I got sat down a manager very directly and honestly with me explained it to me, Ventura told the fan. Its my belief that Im not going to treat everybody the same, but Im going to treat everybody fairly. Paul Konerko is going to be treated differently than rookie who was just called up. Thats the way it is and thats way Im going to operate.
But I am going to be honest if a guy needs to get a few days off, or if he needs the whole season off, hell get the whole season off.
Ventura chuckled as he made that last statement, but it drew a heavy applause.
During a media session on Friday, Ventura said he and his entire staff will meet and decide whats best for the player and the team, should that situation arise.
As a staff, if we feel like its time to make a change, maybe give a guy a breather were different, Ventura said. We have a few different people in here making those decisions so its going to be different. I havent been to spring training yet, so I cant sit here and say Im going to give them 10 at bats and if hes not hitting .900 hes out. Its an unfair thing to do to a player.
Four of the team's top-10 prospects and a former All-Star are among the 19 nonroster invitees to White Sox big league camp this spring.
The team announced Monday that prospects Michael Kopech, Zack Collins, Zack Burdi and Spencer Adams have all been invited to camp next month. Everth Cabrera, an All-Star in 2013 for the San Diego Padres, Cody Asche, Cory Luebke and Geovany Soto are among the eight minor league free agents who also received an invitation. Pitchers and catchers report to camp in Glendale, Ariz. on Feb. 14 while the team holds its first full-squad workout on Feb. 18.
Kopech was acquired in the Chris Sale trade in December while Collins and Burdi were both selected in the 2016 amateur draft. Adams was drafted in 2014.
Signed earlier this month, Soto is expected to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. Soto, who played for the White Sox in 2015, finished last season with four home runs and an .809 OPS in 86 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Angels.
Cabrera, who produced 4.6 Wins Above Replacement between 2012-13, hasn't played in the majors since he appeared in 29 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015. Luebke, who has twice had reconstructive elbow surgery, finished with a 9.35 ERA in nine games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Asche blasted 31 homers with a .240/.298/.385 slash line in 1,287 plate appearances since 2013 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Other minor league free agents include: left-handed pitcher David Holmberg, right-handers Blake Smith and Anthony Swarzak, and catcher Roberto Pena.
White Sox minor leaguer pitchers Aaron Bummer, Brian Clark, Jace Fry and Matt Purke, infielders Nicky Delmonico and Danny Hayes, and outfielder Courtney Hawkins also have been invited to camp.