CHICAGO (CBS) — Robin Ventura was a surprise pick for manager when White Sox GM Kenny Williams picked him to replace Ozzie Guillen last October, but Williams says he knew Ventura would be a good manager “about 17 years ago.”
In an interview with Matt Spiegel and Barry Rozner on 670 The Score’s “Hit And Run,” Williams said, contrary to what many observers have said, picking the laid-back Ventura as manager was not about bringing in someone who had a different managing style than Guillen’s bombastic, in-your-face approach.
“The funny thing is, people have alluded to the difference – the change between one person and the next – and I can honestly sit here and tell you that was never a factor. I never thought ‘Okay, we had a fiery type guy the last time. Now we need more of a subdued type of personality.’ Not a thought in my mind in any way, shape, or form,” Williams said. “I was looking for a leader, first and foremost.”
Listen to Williams’ full interview:
Williams said he knew “about 17 years ago,” when Ventura was still a Gold Glove third baseman for the White Sox, that he would be a good manager someday.
“The leadership that Robin provides extends well beyond the games,” Williams said. “People want to get caught up these days in the game management, but people also forget it’s not just the first inning through the ninth inning. It’s the ninth inning to the next first inning of the next game that sometimes is more valuable, in terms of getting the most out of guys.”
Because Ventura had no previous coaching or managing experience, Williams said he expected he might have to give some personal advice to the new manager at some point, but he hasn’t needed to so far, thanks to the help Ventura has received from his coaching staff.
“I thought I would, but it’s actually been just the opposite. These guys are on it. (Bench coach) Mark Parent and (third base coach) Joe McEwing, I think, are going to manage in the major leagues very soon, and they’re going to draw a lot of interest their way, because they are, you know, they’re on it. They’re all on it,” Williams said. “It’s been a very low-maintenance situation.”
Ventura was brought in to replace Guillen last October, after Guillen was fired and then signed on as manager of the Miami Marlins. By then, the relationship between Williams and Guillen had clearly deteriorated to the point one of them had to go. There had been a number of heated blowups between the two behind the scenes.
Williams said he felt “embarrassed” by the way things ended last season, but said he wants to move on.
“I want to remember the better times, not the worst times,” he said.
Listen to Matt Spiegel on 670 The Score weekdays from 9am–1pm CT on The McNeil & Spiegel Show and Sundays from 9am–Noon CT on Hit And Run.