9:19 PM CST, March 2, 2012
Former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle, the 1983 American League Rookie of the Year, was a teammate of current Sox manager Robin Ventura as well as predecessor Ozzie Guillen.
Kittle notes the contrast in their personalities.
"It will be the first time a manager uses flash cards, because (Ventura) is very quiet," Kittle said with a laugh. "But Robin is a true competitor. He was quiet, funny ... more on the sneaky kind of funny. But everybody respected him and he left everything out on the field.
"And anyone who starts their career off 0-for-41 and doesn't shoot himself or run into a brick wall is a pretty good man."
Kittle says effective managers can use divergent approaches to garner similar results.
"Robin is soft-spoken. … he definitely doesn't have Ozzie's energy," Kittle said. "He may not have Ozzie's (salty) vocabulary, but he is definitely going to go out there and say his piece. And I think he's going to be honest with everybody. If somebody (is terrible), they (are terrible). That's what made Ozzie kind of special. You have got to do your job."
Guillen, who now manages the Marlins, didn't have an easy conclusion to his Sox tenure.
"You can only fight so much for your players to have good years," Kittle said. "I mean, as a manager you can probably only put two of your big sluggers (Adam Dunn and Alex Rios) in the lineup who aren't doing anything. ... I mean, that's tough to do. You've got to get ulcers. I got ulcers and I'm not even on the field. I just think it was time to move on. ... You can only yell so much at the guys."
The 2012 Sox are being served up as a rebuilding team, no matter what management is saying.
"(The Twins) were having a rebuilding year (in 1991). Next thing you know they are in a World Series," Kittle said. "I just think that if (the White Sox) stay healthy and if Rios and Dunn hit 30 (points) higher — each of them — that would have given them a chance last year to be in playoff contention.
"Losing (Mark) Buehrle, I don't think that's going to be that instrumental. He gives you 200-plus innings, but you've got some great arms on that team, too. Those guys just have to step it up a notch and have confidence in themselves."
Another one of Kittle's old teammates, former Sox hitting coach Greg Walker, is now working for the Braves.
"I think that is probably one of the most stressful jobs in the game. I am happy for him to be in Atlanta," Kittle said. "It's two hours from his home. He has been one of my best friends in the game forever. We were roommates since I was 18. I think it was time for him to move on. I kind of knew what direction he was heading. But he took every one of those at-bats personally. He thought it was his fault. That's not the game, that's not how it works. He'll get a fresh start down there in Atlanta."
Kittle said he has not felt the best lately.
"And I never get sick," he said. "Not sure what this is. Maybe food poisoning or something."
Perhaps it's White Sox Fever.
"I'm excited for them. I don't think you're looking at something like the 1927 Yankees," he said. "But you're looking at a team that is going to go out there and compete."
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