Rick Renteria is not Robin Ventura, and he will put his own stamp on the White Sox as soon as pitchers and catchers report to spring training in mid-February.
Renteria, hired Monday to replace Ventura as Sox manager, was Ventura’s bench coach, sure, and his one season with the Sox links him to a recent Sox history fans want to separate from. But things will be different with Renteria, 54, at the helm.
“Once he’s in the managerial chair and has the ultimate final say, I think you’re going to see a real change,” general manager Rick Hahn said.
Described by Adam Eaton as “a bundle of baseball joy” because of the upbeat, positive, nose-to-the-grindstone approach taken to his bench job, Renteria would tell you there’s another layer to Eaton’s cute description.
“Don’t take my kindness for weakness,’’ Renteria said, “because if things aren’t done right I’ve been known to get upset, also.’’
Those who’ve worked with and played for Renteria, who managed the Cubs in 2014, say he has a quiet yet firm, assertive way of getting his points across. His structured plans for change in 2017 have already been spelled out to the front office.
Aside from Renteria and a new bench coach, however, there may not see much change on the coaching staff. Joe McEwing, Ventura’s third base coach since Ventura was hired, is a possibility to move over to the bench. One potential addition to the staff is Nick Capra, the Sox’ director of player development who managed 10 years in the organization’s farm system. Capra coordinated the Sox’ spring training camp in 2016 and traveled with the major league club in September.
“We’ve had a few conversations already the last few weeks [about the staff],’’ Hahn said.
Hahn said Renteria “suffered” through the team’s 78-84 season like everyone else and “has very strong opinions about various areas we need to improve on and how we are going to start doing that in spring training.’’
Hahn hasn’t confirmed which direction he will go this off-season, and Renteria said he’s prepared to manage a young and developing roster in rebuild mode or one built to win now.
“Our job is to handle the players we have,’’ Renteria said. “When you take a managing job, I can tell you that you try to do both — win and develop with younger players. It might be a little tougher proposition because there are quite a few bumps in the road.
“But in either case you’re trying to end up at the same place — you’re trying to develop an organization and a club that’s going to give you some consistency over an extended period of time and hopefully post up in the postseason.’’
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