White Sox hire Ventura as manager

October 6, 2011 - 4:25 PM
White Sox Ventura Baseball

FILE - In this May 27, 2003, file photo, New York Yankees' Robin Ventura watches a home run against the Boston Red Sox in a baseball game in New York. Ventura is replacing Ozzie Guillen as manager of the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox said that Ventura agreed to a multiyear deal on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2011. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

CHICAGO (AP) — Former All-Star third baseman Robin Ventura is replacing the fiery Ozzie Guillen as manager of the Chicago White Sox.

The White Sox say that Ventura agreed to a multiyear deal on Thursday.

A longtime star with the White Sox, Ventura was hired by the club last June as a special adviser to director of player development Buddy Bell. Ventura is the 38th White Sox manager overall, including 17 who played for the team.

Guillen was released from his contract with one year remaining after eight seasons with the White Sox and immediately was hired by the Florida Marlins as their manager.

Ventura was a first-round draft pick of the White Sox out of Oklahoma State in 1988 and spent the first 10 seasons of his 16-year career with Chicago.

Known for his slick fielding, clutch hitting and left-handed power, Ventura also played for the New York Mets, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was six-time Gold Glove winner and an All-Star in 1992 and 2002.

Ventura's selection came as a surprise. Most speculation had the White Sox's top candidates as either Tampa Rays coach Dave Martinez or Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. Both are former White Sox players.

"When I met with the media as our season ended, I identified one person at the very top of my managerial list," White Sox general manager Ken Williams said in a team release.

"I wanted someone who met very specific criteria centered around his leadership abilities. Robin Ventura was that man. His baseball knowledge and expertise, his professionalism, his familiarity with the White Sox and Chicago and his outstanding character make him absolutely the right person to lead our clubhouse and this organization into the seasons ahead."

Ventura, who has also dabbled in TV commentary, said he welcomed the chance to return to the city where his major league career started.

"When I rejoined the White Sox this June, I said this was my baseball home and that part of me never left the White Sox organization," Ventura said. "My family and I are thrilled to be returning to Chicago. Managing a major league baseball team is a tremendous honor. It's also an opportunity and a challenge."

Pitching coach Don Cooper and first base coach Harold Baines were already re-signed to multiyear contract extensions before the season ended. Hitting coach Greg Walker is not returning.

Ventura batted hit .267 with 294 home runs and 1,182 RBIs over his career. His 18 career grand slams are tied for fifth in major league history.

He appeared in 1,254 games over 10 seasons with the White Sox, hitting .274 with 171 home runs and 741 RBI. He ranks among the White Sox career leaders in grand slams, walks, homers, RBIs, extra-base hits and runs scored.

Ventura led Oklahoma State to the College World Series and still holds the Division I record with a 58-game hitting streak.

Guillen, who was a friend of Ventura's while with the White Sox, left after he couldn't get a contract extension from owner Jerry Reinsdorf. His relationship with Williams had become fractured over the last two seasons.

Expected to be contenders this season, the White Sox finished 79-83 and third in the AL Central as several key players, most notably DH Adam Dunn and center fielder Alex Rios, struggled offensively.

With the managerial search completed, Chicago's next big offseason move could be determining whether to bring back longtime ace Mark Buehrle, who will be a free agent.