Ventura enters Sox camp with an open mind
GLENDALE, Ariz. — New manager, open battles.
That's what Robin Ventura was claiming Wednesday on the eve of the White Sox's first workout.
"There is competition with everything," Ventura said. "As far as guys coming here with a clean slate, I'm the guy for that because I haven't seen them enough to pinpoint exactly who's doing what as far as the bullpen. It's open this spring seeing how guys do, what our needs are, and we'll go from there."
Ventura said he was keeping his ideas to himself and the coaching staff, but there will be some trends.
Matt Thornton is the leading candidate for the closer role as rookie Addison Reed develops, and Jesse Crain stays in his effective setup role.
Eduardo Escobar and Ozzie Martinez, whom each arrived well ahead of Tuesday's reporting date for position players, will compete for a backup infielder role.
Zach Stewart and Dylan Axelrod, whom showed glimpses of success as starters, will compete for middle relief roles.
Turning the page: Chris Sale wouldn't be goaded into answering a reporter's question on whether he was bettered suited to "the loud, obnoxious or the laid back" in regards to former manager Ozzie Guillen and Ventura.
"I wouldn't say obnoxious," Sale said in response to Guillen, now with the Marlins. "Ozzie was a great guy. I loved the man. He did nothing but give me opportunities, and he fought for me. He was awesome."
Extra innings: The most noticeable change among the Sox's traveling party was trainer Herm Schneider, who declined to disclose how much weight he lost this winter. ... In addition to becoming a father to a baby girl in November, Stewart cut his hair. "It got pretty ridiculous toward the end of the offseason," Stewart said. "It got down to sitting on my shoulder, so I figured I might as well look respectable coming into camp." ... Ventura revealed Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine hasn't returned his glasses that he borrowed as part of a disguise in the Mets' dugout after getting ejected from a game in 1999. "I won't mention that but 10 more times," Ventura laughed.