Nashville, TN- Most of the press conferences at the Winter Meetings thus far have been crowded with media members anxious to ask questions. But when you put White Sox manager Robin Ventura and Giants manager Bruce Bochy in the same time slot, as you'd imagine Ventura's press conference, much like the White Sox games themselves, was sparsely attended.
The White Sox ran out of steam down the stretch this season and although they held first place for the majority of the season, they finished three games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Though Ventura admitted the "collapse" was frustrating, the White Sox finished 85-77 this season, a huge improvement over 2011 and a solid first showing from the rookie manager. When asked if he thought he could improve on his his 2012 performance, Ventura said, "Yeah, I think any time you go into something and think you know it all and you're done learning, you're going backwards. Getting better either with in game stuff, in-between game stuff, after game stuff, even with you guys, hopefully I get better at them... I know it would be good for you guys, too."
Ventura fielded questions, mostly from Chicago beat writers, in a casual fashion and was comfortable admitting the weaknesses and strengths in the roster that is still a work in progress. When asked about third base options, Ventura said, "there are options that are there. I don't want to go down the road of what they are, but you know you are looking at a team that's very dominant right handed, so you have to look at some left-handed options that might fill that or other spots." When asked about Brent Morel specifically, Ventura said the number-one priority is getting him healthy because he is a good option when he's at full-strength. Whether or not he'll be the only option at third remains to be determined, but Ventura also hinted that if they do go looking for external options at third base or elsewhere, a left-handed hitter is high on the wish list.
The other gap in the White Sox roster, catcher, was also a topic for discussion. When asked how comfortable he'd be with Tyler Flowers as the everyday starter, Ventura said, "Well, you're going to get comfortable, but that's one of those things that if it happens, having seen Tyler, you're just going to have to give him at bats for us to have a really good sense of how he's going to be offensively." Though Flowers would be a big offensive downgrade from A.J. Pierzysnki, Ventura seemed confident that Flowers is good enough defensively and likes the way he calls games behind the plate.
As for the rotation, there was no mention whether or not Ventura thought that Gavin Floyd would still be on the roster next season, and when asked about the possibility of having three left-handed starting pitchers in the rotation with Chris Sale, John Danks, and Jose Quintana, Ventura admitted it would be a bit unusual, but it wouldn't deter him from putting his best pitchers in the rotation.
The White Sox still have a variety of issues to sort out before the season begins, but don't look for them to make big splashes on the free agent market unless it means retaining the talent they had in 2012 with Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis.