11/6 Renteria to manage Cubs – UPDATED

Theo Epstein hired Dale Sveum to help establish the Cubs Way and now has picked Rick Renteria to take the team to the next level. On Thursday, the Cubs will introduce Renteria as their 53rd manager and fourth in the last five years.

There will be no news conference at Wrigley Field for Renteria, who turns 52 on Christmas Day. The Padres bench coach had hip surgery after the regular season ended and is unable to travel.

When Sveum was dismissed on Sept. 30, Epstein said they would prioritize managerial experience in the next manager. He wanted a “dynamic person” who could establish a winning culture after losing more than 90 games two years in a row. The emphasis also would be on a person’s ability to develop young talent.
Renteria does not have managerial experience at the big league level, but has a strong background in player development. He’ll inherit a young core that includes first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Starlin Castro, and catcher Welington Castillo, and up and coming prospects in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora.

Renteria was one of five to interview for the Cubs job. Epstein also talked to former Mariners and Indians manager Eric Wedge, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch, and Brad Ausmus, who was hired by the Tigers on Sunday.

The Cubs also reportedly wanted to talk to Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, but that was complicated by an agreement between the Cubs and Red Sox put in place when Epstein left Boston in October 2011. The two teams had what is essentially a no-compete clause which forbid Epstein from hiring any Red Sox employees for a three-year time period. Epstein had one year remaining on his contract with Boston when he left to take the Cubs job.

Renteria, who also interviewed for the Tigers and Mariners jobs, managed Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. In February, he was asked if he thought he’d get a chance to manage in the big leagues.

“I’ll say the same thing I always say, those things kind of take care of themselves,” Renteria told MLB.com. “I don’t think of it too much. I think what’s most important is the job I’m doing now and that’s the job that I need to be focused on. Those other things, I’ve never worried about that. I’ve been fortunate to be here with a great coaching staff.”

Padres manager Bud Black endorsed Renteria at that time.

“Ricky is highly regarded in our game from people in and around baseball, general managers, managers, coaches and players,” Black told MLB.com in February. “In time, he’s going to get an opportunity to manage. He’s a great baseball guy, has a great baseball mind, is passionate about the game. He’s done a lot. He’s played, he’s coached, and he’s managed in the Minor Leagues. He has a great feel for players.”

Renteria played parts of five seasons with the Pirates, Mariners and Marlins from 1986-94. While playing for the Marlins, Renteria was nicknamed the “Secret Weapon” for his versatility on the field and timely pinch-hitting.

He managed for four seasons with the Padres’ Class A Lake Elsinore team and spent two years with Triple-A Portland before joining the Padres as the first base coach in 2007. He also managed in the Marlins system, including four seasons at Class A and Double-A levels, and was named the Midwest League manager of the year in 1999 when he guided Kane County to a 78-59 record.

He may have only hit four home runs in his career and played 100 games once in five seasons but he’s experienced all the highs and lows, having been traded once, released three times, and even sold by the Tigers to a Mexican team, Jalisco, along with Fernando Valenzuela in June 1992. In 1991, he was the Mexican League Player of the year, winning the batting title with a .442 average.

Renteria is the fifth manager hired this offseason, and the fourth with no previous big league managing experience.

— Carrie Muskat

1 Comment

Good choice! Theo and company are ahead of schedule. Pointing this team in the right direction! Can’t wait to contend in a few years.

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