Sports

Ventura eager to get started in Chicago

It took a while for new Chicago White Sox manager and current Arroyo Grande resident Robin Ventura to realize what happened these past few days.

The abrupt end to a long, drawn out hiring process happened so fast that it wasn’t until he caught a glimpse of himself on TV that he realized the magnitude of his new job.

“I guess it’s for real now,” Ventura said. “It’s been a crazy 24 hours. It’s exciting, nerve racking and fun all at the same time.”

After what has seemed like a whirlwind of phone calls and meetings for Ventura, the Chicago White Sox named him the team’s 39th manager Thursday, filling the job formerly held by Ozzie Guillen for seven years with a former Gold Glove winner and All-Star.

“You only go through one life,” Ventura said after taking pictures with friends while working the barbecue grill at the Arroyo Grande High football game Friday night. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s with an organization I love. I know the people. It’s everything I’m comfortable with.”

Comfortable isn’t exactly how Ventura’s felt over the past couple of days. He couldn’t be more relieved the process over.

“For a while there, I knew the White Sox were talking to me, they knew they were talking to me, but no one else did,” Ventura said. “It was kind of a quiet thing and it’s hard to kind of keep that emotion in check because you can’t really talk to anyone about it. So the decision really had to be within my family.”

“It was tough, it wasn’t just an easy yes. There were a lot of things that went into it.”

And of those things, Ventura said he wanted to keep his family’s priorities second to none. He consulted with them throughout the entire process and, now, they couldn’t be happier.

“They’re ready to go,” Ventura said. “That was something that was definitely a factor. You know there are going to be parts of it, family-wise, that is going to stretch us and make us grow and I think that is part of the challenge too.”

The hire, though, has come with some scrutiny. With former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona among those available, the choice to go with Ventura, whose only credentials at the professional level include being a special adviser to the director of player development for just four months, caught a few off-guard.

However, Ventura’s fully aware of the challenge that comes with his first Major League managing job and is more than ready to take charge of his first ballclub.

“This job is all about criticism,” Ventura said. “You just have to be strong enough to just put it aside. Your job is to do what you think is the best thing to do for your team in any situation and you can’t worry about what people are going to write about you or say about you. You have to stay true to yourself.”

In the face of critics, Ventura can’t wait to get on the field. He’ll fly to Chicago next week to take care of administrative duties but won’t officially meet with the team and get under way with spring training until late February — a period that couldn’t fly by faster, he said.

“I am excited, its just nerve racking because there is so much time until I actually get with the players,” Ventura said. “You know normally at this time, you are coming back from the season and then you have this long period of time off. So it’s technically an offseason right now, but I feel that it’s already time to go.”

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