White Sox's Ventura faces reported swan song
CHICAGO — Robin Ventura will possibly manage his final game for the White Sox — and Chris Sale will audition one last time for the American League Cy Young Award — on Sunday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins.
The White Sox are expected to replace Ventura with bench coach and former Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday night.
Ventura has a record of 375-434 in five seasons and is in the final year of his contract. The White Sox are 78-83 this season, fourth in the AL Central.
“I'll talk at the end of the year,” Ventura said after his team lost 6-0 to the Twins on Saturday. “There can be whatever (report) out there.”
Meanwhile, Sale could set a career high for victories in a season with his 18th. The left-hander picked up his 17th victory Tuesday, when he struck out seven and held Tampa Bay to three runs in seven innings.
“We're not doing it for numbers or anything, but he wants to throw,” Ventura said. “I think that's part of his commitment to being a teammate and all that stuff. So we'll have a pretty good lineup out there.”
In the league, Sale is tied for third in strikeouts (227), tied for fourth in victories, fourth in opponents' average (.225) and ninth for ERA (3.21). He leads the majors with six complete games.
“It would be very easy for him to just say he's had enough and not pitch,” Ventura said. “I think that's a good testament to finishing out the year and doing it right.”
Sale has finished in the top six in AL Cy Young voting every season from 2012-15. He also reached 17 victories in 2012 during his first season as a starter.
“I feel as good now as I ever have on a baseball field, physically,” Sale said after his last start. “This year was the best overall in terms of feeling strong at the end and still having more in the tank.”
Sale is 8-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 23 games (15 starts) against the Twins.
Other candidates for the AL Cy Young include Boston's Rick Porcello, Cleveland's Corey Kluber, Baltimore's Zach Britton, Toronto's J.A.
Happ and Detroit's Justin Verlander.
The White Sox and Twins are closing out disappointing seasons. Chicago went 55-73 after beginning the season 23-10 — the second-best mark in the majors on May 9. The White Sox are posting their fourth straight losing season.
“You look throughout sports, not only baseball, when teams that are supposed to do well don't do well, changes are made, not only with coaching staffs and personnel off the field but on the field as well,” White Sox catcher Alex Avila said. “That's business as usual.”
The White Sox lead the season series against Minnesota 12-6.
On Friday, the Twins (58-103) set a franchise record for losses in a season since the team moved to Minnesota in 1960. The franchise most recently lost 104 when the Washington Senators went 50-104 in 1949.
Rookie right-hander Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.61 ERA) is expected to start for Minnesota. He has yet to pitch against the White Sox.
Brian Dozier is expected to miss the game after he experienced right oblique soreness Saturday. He needs one RBI for 100 and two home runs to tie a major league record for second basemen.
“I hope the guys go out there and try to have a little bit of fun,” manager Paul Molitor said. “Given all the circumstances, tough to do, but you're still playing.”