Robin Ventura no longer will be dogged about his desire to manage.
One year after he bypassed a contract extension to remain the team’s manager, Ventura agreed to a new multi-year deal on Friday that should answer any and all queries about whether or not he likes his spot atop the dugout steps. While the White Sox won’t disclose any details about Ventura’s new accord, the most important one is that the 16-year major league veteran is content with his role. He’s especially pleased to oversee the Youth Movement on 35th Street.
“I enjoyed it even the first year,” Ventura said. “There’s not all aspects of it that are always enjoyable, but that’s part of the job. Last year, as difficult as it was, I still enjoyed doing my job and where I was working.”
Not everyone has taken Ventura at his word on the matter.
Toward the end of his first year, asked about a long career in management, Ventura said in jest he was just trying to make it through the season. The statement raised some eyebrows, as did Ventura’s refusal to accept an extension from general manager Rick Hahn ahead of the 2013 season.
But Ventura had good reason for his denying the offer and Hahn said he never questioned his manager’s desire to remain in the dugout.
At the time, Hahn was headed into his first season as GM. In deference to Hahn, Ventura wanted to work together for a season and ensure the two had chemistry enough that Hahn didn’t feel his manager had been forced upon him. Hahn’s predecessor Kenny Williams hired Ventura after the 2011 season.
“The decision he made was a selfless one to allow me the latitude to get comfortable,” Hahn said. “I thought that was awfully special and it speaks to what kind of man he is, and actually makes a decision like this easier because of it.”
While the act made Hahn’s choice to extend his manager easier, Ventura has constantly been forced to endure questions about his future. Those inquiries continued to mount as Ventura was at the helm for the fourth-worst season in franchise history in 2013 when the White Sox lost 99 games.
But as Ventura — who acknowledged his hiring as an inexperienced candidate was different from others — grew more comfortable in the role, he began to handle each query with more ease. In September, Ventura said he wanted to manage beyond the end of his original contract as long as management felt the same way. Since then, his relationship with management has only strengthened as he and Hahn embraced a full-blown youth movement.
“A lot has been made of not accepting the extension the year before,” Ventura said. “I just felt it was important for Rick do have a full year of doing the job and us working together that he had the freedom and the ability to decide if I’m the right guy for the job.”
With the White Sox now fully focused on their young core, Hahn thinks Ventura is a good fit. He has seen Ventura in the good times and the bad and likes how composed his manager remained throughout.
“Throughout each of those extremes, Robin’s leadership was unwavering,” Hahn said. “ His communication, his ability to teach at the big league level, his enthusiasm, his baseball intellect — all the things we were looking for in a manager were the same at our highest highs and our lowest lows. And that level of stability is what we want from a leader in the dugout.”