11/7 Renteria: We have a chance to win
Rick Renteria was introduced as the next Cubs manager via conference call Thursday. He is unable to travel after having hip surgery. Here are some highlights from the call:
* “The assumption that our team or our club won’t be able to play at a high level, quite frankly, I don’t make that assumption,” Renteria said. “I assume that every team that’s put on the field — and it might sound naive, and I know people are going to say, ‘This kid is naive’ — but I still believe any team that goes in and plays between the lines has a chance to win a ballgame every single day.”
He stressed having confidence, being prepared, and communication. He’s learned how to deal with young players because of his experience at home with four children, ages 35 to 18.
“I’ve been involved in a youth movement my whole life,” Renteria said. “Players, in essence, keep us young. I try to use everything I’ve ever had as a parent, for example, dealing with whatever moments of frustration or issues that might have occured in the family to my advantage. I’ve used that in my thought process through the game and teaching.”
He didn’t want to call himself a “father figure,” but certainly sounded like one when Renteria said he loved his players.
“I believe the game is about them, and it’s not about me,” he said. “Hopefully, as time goes on, the focus isn’t on me, but will be totally on the players and the joy everybody is experiencing because these guys are going out and performing.”
* GM Jed Hoyer recalled a conversation he had in 2010 with Padres officials about Renteria, saying he was “the best worker, the most prepared, and the most positive guy” on the staff.
“It was clear he was going to be a big league manager and I’m really glad it was with us,” Hoyer said. “It was clear it was going to be pretty soon. People with that kind of reputation don’t come along very often in this game and he’s earned it.”
* Renteria, who also interviewed for the Tigers and Mariners jobs, is definitely a people person.
“Personally, my approach to every player on every club I’ve been a part of is to engage the player as a human being first,” Renteria said. “It might sound kind of crazy, but they happen to be human beings who are playing baseball.
“I think one of the biggest things is I know players need is confidence — not that that’s not been provided,” he said. “I feel I lend myself to that ability. I feel that over the time I’ve been in the game, I’ve been able to provide that type of impact, that sense of confidence, and let them believe they can play the game.”
He’ll draw on what he’s learned from Jim Leyland, Dick Williams, Bud Black, Rene Lachemann and his Minor League manager, Johnny Lipon, who Renteria said was the most positive person he’s ever played for.
* The rest of the Cubs coaching staff has yet to be named. Epstein said some of the 2013 coaching staff may return. Dave McKay, who was the first base coach the last two seasons, has already left to take the same job with the Diamondbacks.
* Coming to Chicago as a visiting player and coach left a positive impression on Renteria, too.
“One of the things I’ve always taken away from being here is [the fans] really appreciate effort,” he said. “They really appreciate a club going out there and giving you a fight on a daily basis.”
* Theo Epstein said he tried to hire Renteria as the Minor League field coordinator for the Red Sox a few years ago.
“You can’t find anyone in this game to say a bad word or even a neutral word about Rick Renteria,” Epstein said. “He really excelled in the entire process. We took our time. We wanted to be thorough and had the benefit of being so. It was clear to us that Rick was the right man for the job.”
– Carrie Muskat