White Sox have no doubt Renteria can manage a winner
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There is always talk about managers who pay their dues to make it to a major-league dugout.
Good luck finding one with more receipts than Rick Renteria.
The White Sox manager intensely dislikes talking about himself, but he has dropped a few background hints as he enters his fourth year in the dugout.
After his brief major-league playing career came to an end, Renteria was intent on supporting his family of six by either selling insurance or installing retrofitted light fixtures.
"I didn't see myself as a coach," he said.
That changed when, four years after retiring, Renteria heard from John Boles, the Marlins' minor-league director.
He was back in the game, and back riding buses while managing in the minors for eight seasons. That included a stop with the Kane County Cougars in 1999.
Renteria made it back to the majors, coaching with the Padres for six years before the Cubs hired him as manager in 2014.
He was gone after one year when Joe Maddon became available.
"Hiring (Maddon) was really difficult," Cubs president Theo Epstein said. "We had just hired a manager a year before him. But we felt no matter how uncomfortable, no matter how difficult, it was the right thing to do for the organization to take that chance even though it had dire consequences for other people."
Renteria was that other person, and he stayed away from the game in 2015.
The White Sox gladly hired him the following year as Robin Ventura's bench coach, and Renteria took over as manager in 2017.
He's had three seasons in the Sox's dugout, and is 201-284. Those are not numbers that inspire confidence as the White Sox turn the corner, but the front office realizes Renteria hasn't had much talent to manage.
That changes this season, and the Sox have no doubt the 58-year-old Renteria is the right man for the job.
"Why would there be a bleeping assumption he can't be a winning manager?" White Sox vice president Kenny Williams said Thursday at Camelback Ranch. "Listen, we have zero concern. It's not just about showing up in a particular year and now everything is going to click and you're going to lead that team. He's been preparing these guys, many of them, for a number of years to now get to that point.
"I see the preparation he puts in on a daily basis. He doesn't wing anything. I don't view him as anything but the leader of this club, the hard-work grinder he is and the great communicator he is with everyone, in both English and Spanish."
Williams remembers playing against Renteria during a Class AA game in 1984.
"Ricky Renteria came to beat you," he said. "You knew he was a leader of that (Nashua) team. And he could play. He was fast, he could hit. This dude, he was a force, man."
As a major-league manager, Renteria had four rebuilding teams in his first four years with the Cubs and White Sox. The results were rather predictable.
Now that he has a Sox team equipped to compete, Renteria is not feeling any pressure to produce a winner.
"Someone who wants to feed his family, can't get a job, someone who's dealing with unfortunately an illness, that's pressure," Renteria said. "The pressure I have? Gosh, I have more guys than I can use in the lineup. I can make two or three different lineups on a given day. We have more relief corps, we have a few more starters, that's not pressure.
"That's actually, thank you. And at the end of the day we know the players have to perform, but we're in a much better place now than we've been in a while."