CHICAGO -- The White Sox took their next step, and arguably their most important step to date, in this ongoing reshaping process by agreeing to terms on a multiyear deal with manager Robin Ventura.
Terms of the new contract were not released by the White Sox, with Ventura joking during a SoxFest Town Hall Meeting on Friday night that even he didn't know what they were, and general manager Rick Hahn adding that he worked out the new deal with Stephanie, Ventura's wife. No terms were announced when Ventura was first hired on Oct. 6, 2011, but the extension comes as he is entering the third year of his original three-year deal.
Much was made of Ventura turning down a one-year extension prior to the start of the 2013 campaign. That move was aimed to let Hahn get one year under him as general manager and figure out if Ventura was the man he wanted in charge.
No doubt ever existed in Hahn's mind.
"Again, the decision he made was a selfless one, to allow me the latitude to get comfortable," said Hahn during a news conference at Friday's opening of SoxFest. "I thought that was awfully special, and it speaks to what kind of man he is, and actually makes a decision like this easier because of it. Anyone who knows him, I'm sure, was not surprised that what was best for the organization was ahead of his own selfish economic interests at that time, and that's what he expressed."
"Nothing's really changed in my mind, of where I want to be and what I want to do," Ventura said. "It's just the first time going through that, I wanted to make sure he had the ability to do that. And now, with the way last year went, and the offseason of a lot of communication, of a lot of talks, where we're headed, how we're going to do it, I'm excited."
Ventura, 46, has produced a 148-176 record in two seasons since being hired as the 39th manager in franchise history. His first year, the one supposedly representing a learning process for the man who never had previously served as a manager, saw the White Sox sit atop the American League Central for 117 days before a late-season fade left them second with a final 85-77 ledger.
With excitement to build off of for that impressive debut, Ventura's second year finished with a disappointing 63-99 record. There also was talk as to whether the low-key Ventura even enjoyed the job enough to move past his first deal.
That question was answered with a resounding 'Yes' on Friday, after Ventura had expressed the same sentiment on a couple of occasions last season. There's no doubt that the players respond to Ventura, which will be an especially important trait as the accomplished 16-year former big leaguer leads a much younger and energetic team into action.
"Just his demeanor. X's and O's-wise, there's a lot of guys who know that stuff -- he certainly does -- but with anything, especially a younger team like we have now, he just doesn't miss something," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko of Ventura. "How to treat guys. He's stern with them, he can get his point across, but for a team of this makeup, it's a good fit.
"I'm glad he wanted to stay. It's a great move for the White Sox, because Robin's always valued his private time and his family time, so he could've said, 'I'm going to do this for another year and then go do something else.' But the fact that he wants to be committed to this, it's great for him and it's great for the White Sox."
Even in the tough times last year, Ventura's demeanor didn't change. It's one of the reasons why Ventura is the right man for the White Sox for an indeterminate amount of years to come.
"His communication, his ability to teach at the big league level, his enthusiasm, his baseball intellect -- all the things we were looking for in a manager were the same at our highest highs and our lowest lows," Hahn said. "And that level of stability is what we want from a leader in the dugout."
"You've been through baseball and understand it, but it's a different job than I've had before," Ventura said. "But I knew I enjoyed it the first year. There's not all aspects of it that are always enjoyable, but that's part of the job. Last year, as difficult as it was, I still enjoyed doing my job and where I was working."