If the White Sox replace manager Robin Ventura after this season, a starting point to their search could begin with bench coach Rick Renteria.
Renteria, 54, has much to offer, starting with managerial experience with the Cubs in 2014 and one full year of experience in the Sox organization. He’s fluent in Spanish, is known to be a good teacher and developer of young players, and is highly thought of and respected by the coaching staff.
Bill Bryk, a special assistant to the general manager and a major league scout for the Diamondbacks, knows Renteria well, going back to his days as the Padres’ field coordinator in 2000-07 while Renteria was coaching in their minor-league system. Bryk views Renteria as a perfect fit.
“He’s a top-notch baseball guy and he’s a better person,” Bryk said Thursday. “For me, he’s the best guy out there.’’
Ventura’s contract is up after the season, and while the Sox reportedly want him return, he wouldn’t say if he wants to come back, leading to speculation that his five-year tenure might be over.
After finishing 85-77 and in second place in the American League Central and finishing third in AL manager of the year voting in 2012 in his first season, the Sox went 63-99, 73-89 and 76-86 the next three years and are 77-81 this season pending the result Thursday against the Rays at U.S. Cellular Field.
Renteria, unceremoniously let go by the Cubs after the 2014 season when former Rays manager Joe Maddon became available, came on board as Ventura’s bench coach after making it clear he wouldn’t manage this season. He did not want to have the appearance of one looking over Ventura’s shoulder.
“I’m here to help Robin,’’ Renteria said during the Sox’ midseason nosedive. “I came out here to do the job I’m doing right now. I’ve always believed that whatever goes on after that takes care of itself.’’
Bryk said Renteria will manage again.
“He’s on other people’s lists, I know that,’’ he said.
“He would be a four-star general in the service, except he would go over the hill first.’’
Third-base coach Joe McEwing, who interviewed for the Diamondbacks’ job in 2014, could also warrant consideration.
Upbeat, positive and energetic, “Super Joe” would probably give Renteria a run for his money over that hill. He has stuck close to Renteria this season, citing his baseball knowledge. He managed the Sox’ Class AAA club at Charlotte in 2011.
If the Sox look beyond Renteria and McEwing, a list of candidates could start with former Padres manager Bud Black, the NL manager of the year in 2010. Black, who won a World Series ring as pitching coach with the Angels in 2002, currently works in the Angels’ front office. Renteria was Black’s bench coach in San Diego.
Before Ventura was hired, the Sox considered Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez, Maddon’s bench coach at the time with the Rays, and Indians first base coach Sandy Alomar Jr.
Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is known to be partial to former players and vice president Ken Williams — see Ventura when he was hired with no experience and Ozzie Guillen as a surprise choice before the 2004 season — which makes Aaron Rowand’s name a long shot. Rowand, a Sox minor-league instructor, was named to his first managing gig, albeit an abbreviated one, with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.
Longtime Twins nemesis Ron Gardenhire, who was fired in 2014, returned to the organization in April. If it’s experience the Sox are looking for, Gardenhire posted a 1,068-1,039 record with six division titles from 2002-14 along with a manager of the year award in 2010 with the Twins.