CHICAGO (AP) — White Sox manager Robin Ventura declined to address a report that he will step down from the job and be replaced by bench coach Rick Renteria next season.
In an odd scene after Chicago’s 6-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night, general manager Rick Hahn declined interview requests and White Sox players claimed they hadn’t heard about the report or Ventura’s status.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported during the game that Ventura, who is in the last year of his contract, would not return after five seasons and that Renteria, a former manager of the Chicago Cubs, would take over.
“We’ve been over this,” Ventura said. “I’ll talk at the end of the year.”
Hahn relayed a message through a team spokesman that he would answer questions at a press conference Monday scheduled by the team.
“You guys are telling me something I haven’t even heard about,” third baseman Todd Frazier said, adding that “I love Robin. I love him to death. He’s a good manager, for sure.”
Right-hander James Shields, who allowed two-run homers to Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco to lose his major league-tying 19th game, had high praise for the 49-year-old Ventura.
“He’s one of the better managers I’ve been around, and I’ve been around some really good ones,” Shields said. “To be honest with you, that’s the first time I’m hearing this. But Robin is a good man, a good manager.”
Earlier this season, Ventura said he wanted to return in 2017 despite a fourth straight losing season and five years without a playoff berth. But Ventura then backtracked on that statement after USA Today reported Wednesday that the front office wanted to retain him but Ventura hadn’t committed.
Ventura sidestepped numerous questions about the issue after the game and said he hadn’t discussed his future with the players.
“No, I haven’t talked to them about anything. We’re still playing,” Ventura said. “All the conversations I have with them are about playing.”
Frazier praised the 54-year-old Renteria, who went 73-89 in one season with the Cubs in 2014. The White Sox hired him before this season.
“Rick’s a great guy, man,” Frazier said. “He’s bilingual, which is great. He’s been a manager before. But like I said, it’s not my right to say anything. I haven’t heard anything and that’s basically up to our brass so I’m not going to get in trouble.”
Saturday’s listless defeat continued a theme of inconsistency surrounding this year’s team, which started 23-10. They’re 55-73 since.
“I feel bad that I wasn’t able to do more for him. I know guys in here feel the same way,” catcher Alex Avila said. “We were a team that was expected to win coming into spring training and we didn’t do that.”
The Twins’ lost their 103rd game on Friday night, the most since the franchise moved to Minnesota. On Saturday, they got 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball from Hector Santiago (13-10) in their third win in 14 games.
Buddy Boshers, J.T. Chargois and Brandon Kintzler completed the four-hitter.
Shields (6-19) concluded a career-worst season split between San Diego and Chicago by allowing five runs and four hits over seven innings. His 40 home runs and 118 earned runs allowed are the most in the majors. Only Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer has as many losses.
The 34-year-old Shields was an All-Star in Tampa Bay, helped Kansas City to the World Series in 2014 and entered the year with a major league-high nine straight 200-inning seasons. That streak ended as Shields finished with 181 2/3 innings and a 5.85 ERA.
“That’s just the kind of year I’m having,” Shields said. “I make two bad pitches, and it costs me.”
White Sox: Tyler Saladino (herniated disk) will be evaluated by doctors before leaving for the offseason. He hopes to avoid surgery.
LOT OF HOMERS
Shields is the first pitcher to allow 40 home runs in a season since Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo gave up 46 in 2011.
Amid speculation he could be traded in the offseason to accommodate a rebuild, White Sox ace Chris Sale (17-9, 3.21 ERA) seeks his career-best 18th win in Sunday’s season finale. RHP Jose Berrios (2-7, 8.61) starts for the Twins.