Chicago White Sox: 6 Biggest Challenges for Robin Ventura in Year One as Skipper
Chicago White Sox skipper Robin Ventura will begin his first season as a big league manager April 7th in Texas. Ventura is no stranger to the South Side, but this could be a tough season for the rookie manager.
Ventura is replacing the lightning rod that is Ozzie Guillen, who left the team after eight seasons at the helm and now has his own challenges to meet in Miami. Let's point out some of the challenges facing Ventura as the season gets underway.
1. Handling a Young Bullpen
Ventura has Will Ohman, Matt Thornton, and Jesse Crain as veteran arms in the relief corps. Outside of those three, the new White Sox manager will be leaning on Don Cooper to keep a handle on a very young bullpen.
With Zach Stewart set to be the long man, Vantura will have three youngsters looking for a role, as Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, and Nate Jones are all expected to pitch solid innings.
Can Ventura press the right buttons with so much inexperience in relief?
2. Dealing with Underperformers
Both Adam Dunn and Alex Rios are looking to bounce back after dismal seasons last year. Dunn, in particular, appears to be a good bet to post numbers closer to his career totals.
Ventura's approach to struggling players will be compared with Guillen's penchant for staying too long with veterans. There are options in the outfield. How much pressure will there be to use a bench player like Kosuke Fukudome if Rios stalls out or Dayan Viciedo can't handle the action in left field?
3. Handling His Catchers
The team could soon be facing a changing of the guard behind the plate.
Ventura is going to need to get Tyler Flowers some playing time in order to gauge his readiness to take over full-time responsibilities at catcher. The problem will come in the form of A.J. Pierzynski, who may not be a big fan of sitting more than once a week.
Can Ventura continue to develop Flowers and still keep Pierzynski happy?
4. Developing Brent Morel
Morel is a young third-sacker who many feel will benefit from Ventura's tutelage.
How hands on will the manager be in developing a player who plays the position where Ventura won multiple all-star and gold glove honors?
5. Facing a Media Corps Hungry for Ozzie-Isms
Ventura was a long-time teammate of Guillen. That said, don't expect the new White Sox skipper to be as quotable as the last one.
Ventura will have to find his own way of handling the media and not feel any pressure to provide hot copy for reporters.
6. Working with Kenny Williams
Ventura was the GM's surprise hire after many thought that Williams would opt for a more experienced manager for his club.
Communication between Guillen and Williams was often lacking. Ventura needs to retain the cordial relationship he shares with his current boss.
Putting Up with the Grind of a Big League Season
Ventura has put in his share of time in the majors and knows what pace has to be set to survive and thrive over a 162-game schedule. Now comes time for him to put that experience into practice in his new role in the dugout.
Ventura has a team with low expectation from around the league and will be learning on the go in 2012. Sixteen seasons in the show will provide a jumping off place, but plenty of challenges lay ahead for the rookie manager.