GLENDALE, Ariz. – In his first season as manager, Robin Ventura led the White Sox to the brink of the playoffs with 85 wins, only to fall short during the final week of the season.
It makes sense the Sox would be interested in keeping Ventura beyond his current three-year contract, which ends after the 2014 season.
It's odd that he didn't jump at the chance when general manager Rick Hahn broached the idea during the offseason. Hahn offered, Ventura declined.
“He’s been around long enough to realize that all of us in these positions have a certain shelf life, and he just wants to make sure that when the time comes to sign the extension that he’s confident he’s the right guy at that time,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “It’s really just a testament to him, how special he is in terms of his approach to this position and his focus on the job at hand.”
Ventura’s unwillingness to commit beyond 2014 suggests he doesn’t want to stay with the Sox. But as Ventura explains it, there’s no rush to lock into more years when there’s still two full seasons to go. While the extension offer was “flattering and nice,” Ventura wants the Sox to believe he’s still the right guy for 2015 and beyond. Part of Ventura’s reasoning for holding off on any contract extension is his desire to be assured down the line that his coaches will also be taken care of.
Ventura’s hesitance makes sense, though it raises questions if he’s only a placeholder for the Sox – a way to eradicate the tumultuous Ozzie Guillen era and bring positive vibes back to the organization. He was an unconventional choice when the Sox hired him in that Ventura had no managerial experience at any level. Ventura even acknowledged some reservations before accepting the job and Wednesday, he avoided being labeled a “lifer.”
With Ventura clearly uncertain what his managerial future holds after next year, it's best that both sides hold off on contract talks.
“It wasn’t anything that was a big deal, so I’m not holding out for anything or disappointed in not wanting to stay here,” Ventura said. “I think at the end of that, that’s when you talk about it.”
It’s refreshing that unlike his predecessor Ventura isn’t worried about his next paycheck or financial security. That, Hahn said, makes him “the exception and not the rule in this game.”
“My hope is that Robin’s here for a long, long time,” Hahn said. “You can’t obviously foresee the future, but I suspect when the time comes that there is a new manager it’s that Robin decided personally he’s not wanting to continue or he’s not the right guy or the best guy to lead the White Sox at that time. My hope is that’s far into the future.”
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @M_Montemurro.