Cooper fills manager's seat in place of Ventura

Cooper fills manager's seat in place of Ventura

Cooper fills manager's seat in place of Ventura

CHICAGO -- The pregame manager's media session took place about 45 minutes later than usual on Friday at U.S. Cellular Field because, as Don Cooper humorously put it, he was more worried about his schedule and his pitchers' schedule than keeping reporters waiting.

For Friday night's contest, Cooper sat in as White Sox manager with Robin Ventura in California for his daughter's high-school graduation and bench coach Mark Parent home for his son's graduation. Cooper's primary job is handling the pitching staff, a task he's done for the past 11 years and will be happy to fulfill for the foreseeable future, with managerial desires much more of a distant thought.

"Sure, if somebody came to me and said, 'Hey, we'd like you to be our manager,' then it would be on my mind," Cooper said. "Other than that, I don't think about that. I'm a pitching coach that's managing today in Robin's absence. My passion is pitching and White Sox pitching."

Cooper, 56, managed the final two games of the 2011 season when Ozzie Guillen was let out of his contract early, posting a 1-1 record against the Blue Jays. There didn't seem to be a clubhouse mantra Friday of "Let's get Cooper over .500," but the players did enjoy teasing him.

Paul Konerko, who got Friday off, threw in a question to the pregame session via a reporter about Cooper making usage of the captain as an unofficial bench coach. Cooper said that he wished Konerko was playing because the first baseman will be in his ear all game about decisions, but then he closed with a humorous shot.

"Don't be surprised, after stuff like that, if you don't see him go out there and pinch-run," Cooper said.

"That'll get you a job," said Konerko, after laughing at Cooper's response.

On the more serious side of things, Cooper talked about having everyone out of the bullpen ready to go Friday following Wednesday's 16-inning affair in Seattle, the success of Dylan Axelrod this season and the success of Friday's starter Chris Sale. Cooper believes the managerial task is one he could handle, but he doesn't see himself making a jump to the top spot like John Farrell or Bud Black have done.

"I'm looking forward to this. I'm going to have fun with this." said Cooper, who managed winter ball for five years in Venezuela. "Hopefully, the guys have fun. Hopefully, we go out there and play a good game and certainly, I'm coming to try to win the game."

"You can tell him anything and he'll tell you what you need to hear," said White Sox closer Addison Reed of Cooper. "He's awesome. I've never worked with a coach as good as him."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.