CLEVELAND -- The White Sox probably stopped counting down the days until the end of the 2013 season somewhere well before this final week. Now they are simply awaiting the end.
But when they begin what they hope is a bounce-back 2014 campaign next February in Arizona, the players have absolutely no doubt that Robin Ventura is the manager to lead them to the postseason promised land.
"It's funny, when we were winning, he was a godsend. Now a year later, people want him out of here," said White Sox starting pitcher John Danks of his manager. "We as a team love having him here. He's a great manager, knows what he's doing, knows baseball. It isn't his fault we stink. He's not throwing the ball, not catching it, not trying to hit it. He's putting us in the right position to win. It's up to us to do it."
"He's just steady. He doesn't change," said White Sox captain Paul Konerko. "The fact that he's held it together with what he's had to witness all year, with the rest of the coaches, I could tell you there probably are a lot of staffs and managers that this could have been really bad with what happened. But hopefully this is the last time he has to go through something like this."
Managers such as John Farrell in Boston and Terry Francona with the Indians clearly have made a difference in their new environs. Ventura looked to have the same effect on the 2012 White Sox, who topped the American League Central for 117 days.
As Konerko pointed out, there are some teams where it doesn't matter who manages -- both on the positive or negative side. A team can just take off from the start, or be the polar opposite like the 2013 White Sox. He quickly added that Ventura and his staff never really had a chance this season.
"We never really got to any point in the season where it felt like the staff could implement stuff they wanted to do," Konerko said. "We never really got it going. The work was there. Guys worked early. There's a lot of early work. There's a lot of early ground balls. All that kind of stuff.
"From a competitive standpoint, I feel bad that as a team we really didn't let those guys kind of enjoy being a manager or being coaches because we were never in it. We were out of it the whole way. It's tough."