Manager candidate Venable focused on Cubs

January 18th, 2020

CHICAGO -- A young fan made his way to the microphone as a hush fell over the packed ballroom at the Sheraton Grand Chicago on Saturday morning, awaiting his question. In front of him on stage sat new Cubs manager David Ross and the overhauled coaching staff.

"This question is for ," the fan began. "Are you planning on leaving the Cubs?"

Ross leaned forward to his own mic and turned to look at Venable, who was seated are the far end of the long table. Venable, the Cubs' third-base coach, interviewed on Friday for the managerial vacancy with the Astros, but returned to Chicago in time for this Cubs Convention panel.

"I would like to know that, too," Ross said.

After an eruption of laughter, Venable offered a three-word reply that elicited cheers: "No, I'm not."

It was a strong statement, but one that the 37-year-old Venable later curbed some in additional comments with reporters. In short: Venable's focus right now is on the Cubs and preparing for the 2020 campaign as part of Ross' first staff. But, interviewing with Houston was an opportunity he did not want to pass up, and he is now in wait-and-see mode on that front.

Earlier this offseason, Venable was on the first list of internal managerial candidates for the Cubs and he also interviewed for the Giants opening that went to Gabe Kapler.

"Obviously you have to take opportunities seriously and you have to think about those things," Venable said. "I'm a Chicago Cub right now, until that changes. I'm super excited to be here and committed to this team. Until someone gives me an opportunity to have a different job, this is where I'm at and I plan on being up here for the year."

Venable joined the Cubs in 2017 as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein before working as the first-base coach and outfield coach in each of the past two season. He replaced Brian Butterfield as third-base coach in Ross' reshuffling of the staff this offseason.

The Astros' managing job was vacated when Houston dismissed AJ Hinch in the wake of Major League Baseball's investigation into the team's sign-stealing controversy. According to various reports, the Astros interviewed Buck Showalter, John Gibbons and Venable last week, and Dusty Baker will be interviewed on Monday.

Houston bench coach Joe Espada -- a finalist for the Cubs' job before it went to Ross -- is also a candidate, per multiple reports.

Venable declined to go into any details about what was involved with his interview with the Astros on Friday.

"I'm really sensitive to the fact that these guys are going through some serious stuff over there," Venable said. "So I really don't have any comment on the interview process itself, other than I was honored that they asked me to come down and I enjoyed my time there."