- Associated Press - Thursday, October 6, 2011

CHICAGO (AP) - Robin Ventura was easing his way back into baseball with the Chicago White Sox. Hired as an adviser to player development director Buddy Bell in June, it afforded him just the right mix of work and time with his family.

When Ozzie Guillen asked out of his contract near the end of the season and eventually ended up in Florida, Ventura was as surprised as anyone.

And when general manager Ken Williams and Bell talked to him and broached the possibility of succeeding Guillen, he was initially taken aback.

He mulled it over, discussed it with his wife and after a face-to-face meeting with Williams decided it was the right move, facing a challenge in a place where he was comfortable and well-liked for a decade. An offer, it turned out, he couldn’t and didn’t refuse.

“Not having managed before, I did have apprehension,” the former White Sox star third baseman said in a conference call Thursday. “(Williams) never tried to talk me into it. It was more of what was going to be there and be available. Ultimately it was going to be my decision.”

Ventura, known for his slick fielding, clutch hitting and left-handed power, has a good sense of humor and a well-rounded perspective on the game.

Fiery as Guillen? Nope. But he’s had his moments, too.

Who can forget the time he charged the mound after Nolan Ryan plunked him with a pitch in 1993? Once there, Ryan applied a quick headlock and administered several punches before players from both teams reached the confrontation.

And Ventura was tough as a player, too, surviving a grotesque injury in 1997 when he fractured and dislocated ankle in a spring training slide.

Now he’s the 39th White Sox manager overall, a list that includes 17 who played for the team.

“I think there is a challenge there, getting back into the game,” he said.

“I do have a passion for it. I do have a passion for this team and this city. I’m not one to really back away from a lot of things. … The passion is there to do it, I was asked to do it. I’m honored.”

Guillen was released from his contract with one year remaining after eight seasons with the White Sox and immediately was hired by the Florida Marlins as their manager.

“That whole thing surprised me as much as anybody. I figured he would be managing here a long time,” Ventura said of Guillen, his friend and former teammate.

The 44-year-old Ventura played for a host of managers who could influence his style _ Jeff Torborg, Gene Lamont, Jerry Manuel, Bobby Valentine, Joe Torre and Jim Tracy.

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