GLENDALE, Ariz. - Confirming he turned down a one-year contract extension in October, Robin Ventura on Wednesday said he prefers to focus on the two years remaining on his deal as White Sox manager.
Ventura, who is entering the second year of a three-year deal, said he will revisit his future when his contract is up.
"To Robin's credit, he was pretty clear in that he just wants to make sure he's truly the right guy when that time comes around," general manager Rick Hahn said. "His focus isn't on 2015 at this time, his focus is on now."
Ventura's mantra as manager during his first year was to have his team concentrate only on that day's game and nothing beyond that. It worked, helping the Sox occupy first place in the American League Central Division for 117 days. His short-term look into the future is how he wants to go about managing the Sox, too.
"It was flattering and nice and everything but in talking to Rick, we have two more years to do this," Ventura said. "This is my contract and I was the same way as a player. I'll worry about it at the end of it. In two years, I want them to think I'm the right guy for the job."
While turning down the offer raised questions about Ventura's desire to manage long-term, Ventura downplayed it.
"It wasn't anything that was a big deal," he said. "I'm not holding out for anything or disappointed or not wanting to stay here. Again, at the end of that is when you talk about it. I'm not worried about trying to extend anything right now. I'm worried more about this team in spring training now than 2015."
Ventura was a surprise hire by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and then-general manager Kenny Williams after the 2011 season, Ozzie Guillen's last as manager. Ventura had no managing experience at any level, but he led the Sox to an 85-win season, good for second place as the Detroit Tigers charged past them into first place during the last two weeks.
Players praised Ventura for his calming influence and for helping players like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have successful seasons after poor performances in 2011. Pitcher Jake Peavy said Ventura can't be any better from a player-relationship standpoint, but he said it's safe to say Ventura stands to improve managing a game with a year of experience under his belt.
Ventura would agree.
"Any time . you think you know it all or are done learning, you're going backward," Ventura said. "Hopefully I'm getting better with in-game stuff, in-between game stuff and even after-game stuff. I'm excited to do what I do. I love it."
While Hahn might have been surprised by Ventura's decision, he said the desire to put an extension on hold is "a testament to how special he is with his approach to this position and the job at hand."
"My hope is that Robin is here for a long, long time," Hahn said. "You can't foresee the future, but I suspect when the time comes that there is a new manager it's that Robin decided personally he's not wanting to continue or he's not the right guy or the best guy to lead the White Sox at that time. My hope is that's far into the future."
Ventura stopped short of saying he views himself as a managerial "lifer," but said it's possible he might do it for a long time. He's just in no rush to decide that now.
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