Rick Renteria settles in, keeps low profile as White Sox bench coach

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First-year bench coach Rick Renteria with manager Robin Ventura.

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Rick Renteria wants no part of the spotlight at White Sox camp. All he wants is to blend in, get to know staff and players in his first year as bench coach and be there for manager Robin Ventura.

It took several requests from various media to get Renteria, the former Cubs manager who is back in baseball on the South Side of town after a year away from baseball, to be pinned down for a group session with reporters after the Sox worked out Sunday at Camelback Ranch.

As one of two new staffers along with assistant hitting coach Joe Sparks, Renteria carries something of a high profile because of his association with the Cubs, the way he was abruptly let go by them when Joe Maddon became available and because his experience as both a bench coach and manager would make him a logical replacement for Ventura. The Sox manager is in the last year of his contract after three consecutive losing seasons, and should the Sox get off to a bad start and decide to make a change, Renteria’s name will surface prominently.

Renteria has always scored big on points for class, and the last thing he wants is to be viewed as that guy in waiting.

“The biggest thing that I can do is take every day one day at a time and focus on what my job is now,’’ Renteria said. “I’ve kind of always worked that way, I’ve never really looked beyond where I was at. I think all those things ultimately take care of themselves and right now my job is to collaborate with all the coaches in that room and all the players and hopefully look forward to having some fun and we can all enjoy it.’’

While Renteria is not “running the show” during spring training as bench coaches often do – director of player development Nick Capra is in charge of mapping out and distributing the daily planner – he is focusing much of his time on baserunning, doubling up with Daryl Boston or Joe McEwing, to get points across.

“Make no mistake about it, Robin is the manager,’’ Renteria said. “If he needs something from me, I’m here to be a sounding board. If there’s something I see that he might be involved in something else, I might mention it to him. But for the most part, I’m just here to be a sounding board and give him some information.’’

The Sox let bench coach Mark Parent go in the final week of the 2015 season and brought in Renteria, who had received a reach-out call from Ventura the year before when he was let go, in October.

The Sox welcomed the bilingual voice of Renteria, who has already been praised by star first baseman Jose Abreu.

Here is Renteria working Venezuelan outfielder Avisail Garcia on Sunday:

“One of the things they wanted was to communicate in the same language,’’ said Renteria, who is fluent in Spanish

“Baseball has a language of it’s own. But it is good they feel they’re getting the information they need in order to move forward.’’


Rick Renteria

Ventura said Renteria, while learning the Sox cast of characters in his midst, has “been great jumping in and doing different things.’’

“It’s been great. He’s going around, even with the Latin guys it has become an easier translation going over things as far as what we’re looking for. It’s been a good addition.’’

“It has been really good,’’ Renteria agreed. “It has been very positive. The guys are responding very, very well. Robin has a very good positive attitude with them and I think we are trying to implement some things, just playing the game. Not really reinventing the wheel or anything. They are doing a nice job.

“The biggest adjustment, just like always whether you have been playing or coaching when you go somewhere new, you want to settle in and get to know everybody. I’ve been very fortunate because the group of guys I’m working alongside of are pretty easy to work with.’’

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