Opening Day

Friday, April 6, 2012

 Busy Morning

 Random notes …

Waking up to catch the 8:15 a.m. bus to the ballpark and having it be close to full … seeing Robin and his son heading toward the bus together and seeing how much they walked alike … hearing from Harold Baines that this is his 31st Opening Day in the big leagues … seeing Adam Dunn’s Opening Day haircut and hearing, “Hey, who’s the new guy?” … President George W. Bush stopping in the clubhouse pregame to meet our players, pose for photos and say hello … Pete Incaviglia saying hello to former OK State teammate Robin Ventura prior to the game …

RV on Opening Day

 How do you feel being finally here?

It’s great. I think guys are excited. You know you do all that work, and now you get to actually go play and it all counts. This is the fun part.

Are you nervous?

I mean yeah, you are, you’re excited. But it’s not like you play. When you play there are different things you go through; this is more mental and just thinking of different things that may come up. Trying to look ahead and how you’re going to react to things.

Dale Sveum said he didn’t sleep much because he was thinking about Opening Day…

I slept all right. I had the day off yesterday, so I slept fine.

Are you going to play Adam Dunn in the field at all this series?

I haven’t gotten that far. Right now that’s something, unless anything with Paul happens, probably not. Maybe in Cleveland.

Do you have a set plan for when you’ll play him?

Not necessarily. But I could see him doing something in Cleveland, maybe playing first base at some point in Cleveland.

Will you play him in the outfield as well?

Yeah, but we have enough outfield guys where I think we can keep him at first. We still have Lillibridge and Fukudome who can play the outfield, so I’d rather have them out there than have him go out there.

Will Lillibridge play the next few days against the lefties?

Yeah, he might get in there probably the third day. I can see that happening. We just have to get through today first.

Do the relievers know their roles? The closer?

Yes. They know. I’ve talked to them, and they understand where I’m coming from and what I’m thinking and why I’m doing things. We’re all on the same page.

Is there a reason why you didn’t announce the closer?

No, I just don’t see the need to have to announce it. I think at some point it’s not going to be the same guy all of the time. Not necessarily thinking ahead in terms of a committee bullpen, but the guy coming into the ninth will end up being different at certain points of the season.

So it will sometimes be determined by matchups?

Yeah, it could depend on how guys do against certain teams and matchups. If we had Mariano Rivera, I would be able to tell everybody that we have a closer.

Is part of that just wanting all your guys prepared all the time for any role?

Yeah. For them, they understand when they’re coming in and when they’re likely to be used, so that’s enough for them to know.

Was the decision based on shielding them from questions going into the season?

No, I think they’ve gotten more questions. They didn’t have any answers for them, but they probably got more questions. It’s more of just getting ready for today and not worrying about all of the other stuff.

Are you feeling comfortable with how you’ve progressed thus far?

For me it’s good to talk back-and-forth. That happened all spring, talking about different situations. Even though it looked like nothing was really going on because you’re moving a guy in at certain times for a full inning, during the course of the inning you’re talking back-and-forth about the likelihood of using somebody in a certain situation. So that was going on a lot during spring. This is different because now you’re cutting down to 25 guys instead of having to manage – we started out with 50-something and then even 30. So it’s different, but I feel like we’ve done that thinking and talking back-and-forth not only with Coop, but with Mark [Parent] and everybody else. I like asking questions to the coaches about what they’re seeing with the guys that they’re paying attention to.

Are you finding you’re asking less questions?

I feel more comfortable. I don’t know if I’m talking less or more, I’m just asking the questions that I want an answer from them on. To see if they’re seeing the same thing I’m seeing or thinking. I’m doing more of that. I feel comfortable, but until we get in it and do it, it’s different.

Do you think the media makes a bigger deal out of the job it takes to be a manager than what is reality?

No, it’s a big deal. It’s hard. I’m not saying it’s easy at all. It’s time consuming. I wouldn’t say it’s overwhelming but your plate gets full pretty quick. People have always said, and I’ve had a lot of friends that are managers say, that your staff is very important. And that’s probably the biggest truth out of all of it; you have to have trust in your staff and what they’re doing, and that they’re conveying the same message that you want. That’s what I take comfort in – that I have guys that I trust in.

 Do you have more of an AL mentality, NL mentality or just a baseball mentality?

 It’s just more baseball. The National League lends itself more to the whole team being part of it, because you have double switches and bench players that play. Certain teams will have guys on the bench in the American League that won’t see playing time for weeks at a time. In the National League that’s very rare. So for a team game, the National League is more conducive to that than the American League. But it’s still baseball; it’s just a little different with the DH.

Can you walk into this park without thinking about the two grand slams that you hit?

Yeah, I mean we’re just trying to play a game. I’m worried more about going out to BP and throwing strikes than I am about whatever happened here.

Ron Washington and some of the other veteran managers had spoken with you. What did you take away from those conversations?

They were good conversations, again just about the staff and different things about how you think, and when you go home how you rethink the game. You have to do what you believe is right, and that’s the most important thing. That’s what I’m sticking with. Whatever you’re thinking is in your gut, that’s what you’ve got to do. If you believe in that then you can sleep a lot easier at night. When you’re waffling back and forth on decisions you make, those are the ones that will keep you up.

Is it somewhat like a fraternity between the managers?

Yeah, I think having played third base in the past, you run through a lot of guys that have been third base coaches. Wash [Ron Washington] was in Oakland for a lot of years so you have a certain type of relationship with those guys. Throughout my career you see those guys and you get to talk to them, so it’s probably more than just if I came out of nowhere and became a manager.

Did you get a lot of calls from people in the last few days?

Yeah, there were a lot of calls. I had to turn the phone off so I could sleep.

Was it baseball people, family or friends?

It was everybody. It’s been good.

Is dealing with the media more than you expected?

I understand that this is part of it. I realize that I’m going to have to talk about what took place and kind of what’s going on. It’s not my favorite part, but I get it. I understand that I have to do it.

Shaking Hands, Wishing Well

Rangers President Nolan Ryan stopped by the White Sox clubhouse Friday pregame.  He and Ventura shook hands, congratulated one another and wished each other well for 2012.  It was the first time the two had talked since a certain day in Arlington a few years ago …

 Special Hello

To all the White Sox fans who attended our special Opening Day watch party at Bacardi at the Park in U.S. Cellular Field.  I heard the atmosphere was electric, and that #letsgosox was trending.  Thanks, White Sox fans!


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