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Ventura determined to keep Sox unified, motivated

DETROIT -- After four years of managing, Robin Ventura has discovered the unofficial secret to the job.

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"It's easier to manage when you are winning," said Ventura with a wry smile, when questioned Thursday about his job and the current status of the White Sox.

The White Sox are not winning consistently this season, falling well below lofty preseason expectations with a 31-40 record entering this four-game set against the Tigers. So Ventura's biggest challenge during these tough times is keeping his team together.

"Keep them pointed in the right direction, and there's an element in here that you don't want them to cave into it. And you continue to compete," Ventura said. "You practice right, you get the right mentality going, and you go play. And there has to be that expectation there.

"There is a professionalism that goes with it, and whether it's going good or bad, you better be coming out ready to compete. For me, you prepare and you come in here and you do what you think is necessary and you go about it."

Ventura feels that his team is coming in ready to play and sticking together, and if there's a sign to the contrary, it is addressed immediately. As an example, Adam Eaton did not run hard on a ball he hit to shortstop in Wednesday's 6-1 loss against the Twins on a ball he thought was caught.

Eaton was thrown out on a close play at first, a play he would have beaten if he had run hard out of the box. To Eaton's credit, he took full responsibility for the miscue postgame. Ventura talked to Eaton in the dugout after the mishap and put him back in the lineup Thursday.

"We had a talk right then. We said enough then," said Ventura of Eaton, who homered to lead off Thursday's contest. "I understand what happens. He understands where I stand on it. And we are going to go play today.

"Really, we all have been committed to that, even out of Spring Training. You run everything out hard. Don't take anything for granted. And he understands that."

An understanding also exists that through the good times and the bad, Ventura stays the same and true to himself.

"There's something about the way you handle yourself, whether it's going good or whether it's going bad. And I get my point across, and these guys know that and there's moments that are louder than others," Ventura said. "There's moments that are more poignant than others.

"But in the end, this is professional baseball and there are standards that are there, and I'm trying to make sure those are met. And when they're not, it becomes a tougher conversation with guys. You're upfront and they know what's expected. I don't know if you necessarily change, even though it's tougher, but you've been through tough times as a player and you have to find a way to fight through it and get the point across."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and listen to his podcast.
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