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updated: 6/26/2014 9:30 PM

Renteria: Despite slow pace, baseball still a special game

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The World Cup drew attention during daytime hours Thursday, and the NBA draft held sway at night.

Squeezed somewhere in the middle, the Cubs and Washington Nationals played a baseball game at Wrigley Field.

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Football and basketball are the "exciting' sports in the United States, and the Blackhawks have helped hockey make significant inroads in Chicago and around the country. Soccer is the world's most popular sport, but Cubs manager Rick Renteria says baseball is still special.

"For me it is," he said before Thursday's game. "I think baseball still holds a special place in everybody's heart here in the States. I know soccer is growing throughout the world. But baseball's actually got a tremendous following, as everybody knows, in Latin America, in Japan. It's still a wonderful sport, and a lot of people enjoy it.

"Baseball is certainly a different pace than football, soccer. No doubt. In American football, everything's always moving. In soccer, everything is still moving. In baseball, you have all the strategy that can also have a quick pace at times. I think it takes a little special, maybe, interest to watch us be out here every single day. I think that's just what makes it special. It's a tough sport to play."

The one criticism baseball is hearing is that the games take too long to play because of slow pacing.

"There are a lot of components to that, though," Renteria said. "We have to hold sometimes for television when we're ready to go. There are a lot of different pieces that you can evaluate. Are there certain clubs that probably take a little more time on the offensive side or whatever the case might be? There may be, but I just see the game. I don't think about it in terms of time."

The Manny effect:

Manny Ramirez was scheduled to make his debut Thursday for the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa affiliate in its doubleheader at Colorado Springs.

The former big-league slugger was signed as a player-coach for Iowa with plans for him to help the Cubs' hitting prospects.

"He was brought on to share his experience with all the players who are there," said Rick Renteria. "We'll probably follow it more to how some of the kids are responding, some of the conversations that are had, some of the aspects of how he prepares on a daily basis.

"He's always been known for being a very prepared individual and having a very methodical routine, which is something he can share with the players there. From afar, we'll just watch what's going on."

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