Robin Ventura returned to the dugout Saturday after missing the last two games to attend his daughter's high school graduation, with the White Sox tailspin nearing two weeks. The Sox have lost 10 of their last 11 games and sit in last place in the AL Central -- and perhaps that'll lead the front office to deal away players over the next month and a half.
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If that's the case, though, it won't change Ventura's commitment to staying with the White Sox through the end of his contract in 2014.
"A situation like this, I would be ashamed to walk away just because it’s tough," Ventura said. "I think that’s part of being in it with these guys. I’m here as much as they are as far as turning it around and being ready to go."
Ventura turned down a contract extension over the winter, and he knows rumors about his desire to manage persist. But with the White Sox struggling to break out of their current rut, Ventura's not thinking about his next step.
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"For one reason or another, there’s a whisper that because it’s going like this I’m not going to come back," Ventura said. "That’s the furthest thing from the truth. For me, I’m in it for as long as I’m in it and then you go from there."
La Russa doesn't see return to Sox in his future
Tony La Russa is back in Chicago for a 1983 White Sox reunion, but the now-retired "Winning Ugly" skipper doesn't anticipate re-joining the organization.
The three-time World Series champion has a close relationship with chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, which he laughed was one of the reasons why he wouldn't take a job with the White Sox.
"That'd probably be the worst way, that'd be the end of our relationship," La Russa said. "I think the city has really come to realize what a gift he is as an owner. Both franchises, he really cares, he really doesn't want it for himself. He's got a legion of friends and family like myself that he takes care of. I have no better friend than Jerry Reinsdorf, and I pull hard for him and his teams, both of them."
The 68-year-old La Russa also said he has no intentions of returning as as manager. His name was already tossed out as a candidate to replace Mike Scioscia with the Angels, and if Ventura were to not return to his post after the 2014 season, La Russa could garner some speculation for that role as well.
"I don’t miss managing. It’s surprising to a lot of people who know me, including me," La Russa said. "But I miss the winning and losing. That’s all I ever did for 50 years. At the end of the day, you are either happy or sad. But no, I had my time. I passed the baton and now I see how much fun it is to second guess."
Santiago gets stability
Hector Santiago has been bounced between the White Sox rotation and bullpen this year, but is set for the next month and a half to pitch as a starter with Jake Peavy on the shelf. He's handled his role well -- he has a 3.35 ERA in five starts and 11 relief appearances -- but pitching coach Don Cooper thinks the left-hander will benefit from a defined role until Peavy returns.
"It's a little bit, you don't want to do that, but sometimes it's out of necessity and that's the reason why," Cooper said Friday. "We're comfortable with him starting, for sure. And we'll see how it goes from there, but yeah, he's penciled in."
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Santiago has a 2.51 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings as a starter in his career, in which he's limited opposing hitters to a .199 batting average and .630 OPS -- although he cautioned his small sample size pitching out of the Sox rotation.
"It's only been (nine) starts, so I wouldn't think too much into that," he laughed.
In his first 10 games since coming off the disabled list May 10, Dayan Viciedo had 14 hits in 46 plate appearances with eight walks, five strikeouts and two home runs. But he's struggled since, hitting .130/.127/.185 with no walks and 17 strikeouts over his last 15 games, becoming an easy out in the middle of the Sox lineup.
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"We're going to try to make it change. I don't think you're accepting to the fact that a guy is pitchable," Ventura said. "He got a little bit of that once he got over the DL stint, he came back and I don't think he was swinging quite as hard or being as aggressive, and it was working. He was a little more patient. Now it's full-strength and he's trying to make it all back on one swing.
"I think he's overswinging to an extent of trying to do something you're not capable of."