MESA, Ariz. On some level, Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen were entertainers. They made great copy and played to the cameras.
Dale Sveum and Robin Ventura wont be looking for the red light. These managers seem to be far more reserved, not nearly as explosive. But that doesnt mean they wont be compared to each other for as long as they keep their jobs.
The Cubs will bus to Camelback Ranch on Friday to play the White Sox, and two former teammates will be at the center of the rivalry, even if it doesnt count yet.
I dont even think about it, to tell you the truth. It hasnt really crossed my mind, Sveum said Thursday. Obviously, it will be a heck of a lot different when the season starts. But spring training is kind of another game right now. I know its not another game to people back in Chicago. (But) our schedule is based more on: Golly, lineup? Oh yeah, were playing the Mariners today or the White Sox.
Were not like caught up in who were playing right now. Its just more getting people at-bats and that kind of thing.
The 44-year-old Ventura essentially had no coaching experience when White Sox general manager Kenny Williams made him the surprise pick to replace Guillen last October. No one saw that coming.
No one can dispute Venturas playing credentials two All-Star selections, six Gold Gloves or dismiss the fact that he lasted 16 years in the games three biggest markets (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles).
Sveum emerged as an obvious candidate from the moment new president Theo Epstein flew down to Florida and fired Mike Quade. Sveum had ties to the Boston Red Sox as the third-base coach on that 2004 championship team, a deep understanding of video and statistical analysis and a no-nonsense approach.
Combined, Ventura and Sveum have managed 12 games in the majors (plus Sveums playoff series loss as the Milwaukee Brewers interim manager in 2008). But together they have played in almost 3,000 games in the big leagues, and that brings instant credibility.
Sveum played briefly with Ventura after being traded to the White Sox from the Philadelphia Phillies late in the 1992 season. They spoke at the winter meetings in Dallas, and are scheduled to do a promotional shoot before Fridays game.
Hopefully, (Ill) get over there early enough to be able to talk to him and see how things have been going, Sveum said. Im sure hell have the same questions for me.