‘Bittersweet’ reunion for Rick Renteria coming up at Wrigley Field

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Rick Renteria was introduced as the Cubs manager on Dec. 5, 2013. He was fired after one season (73-89, a seven-game improvement over 2013) to make room for Joe Maddon. (Michael R. Schmidt-For Sun-Times Media)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Manager Ned Yost remembers being angry when he returned to Milwaukee with the Royals in 2015, seven years after he was fired by the Brewers in September 2008 with his team struggling but still tied for the wild-card spot with 12 games to go.

He didn’t show it, though.

‘‘I’m not really emotional,’’ Yost said. ‘‘I was more like: ‘OK, screw you. I’m in a good spot.’ ’’

If White Sox skipper Rick Renteria will be feeling any of that emotion when he returns Monday to Wrigley Field as a manager for the first time since he was unceremoniously and suddenly fired in 2014 to make room for Joe Maddon, he’s hiding it pretty well, too.

‘‘It’s not going to be any different, I don’t think,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘It’s bittersweet. There’s where I got my first managing opportunity. But I really take away fond memories from being there, and now I happen to be on the South Side. We’re going to go in there and try to beat the Cubs.’’

Yost got his satisfaction by returning to Milwaukee as the manager of the defending American League champion Royals, who were on their way to a World Series championship. Renteria is just beginning the rebuild with the Sox and fully embracing it, despite the sour experience of his single season with the Cubs.

‘‘Is it difficult [rebuilding again]? No,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘At the end of the day, everybody is looking for the same thing — compiling a very talented ballclub that will give you opportunities to compete in the postsesaon and maybe [win] championships.

‘‘I hope I’m around here. I anticipate being around when all of those things start to come to fruition. But, no, it’s not frustrating because I have an idea of the direction we’re going as an organization.’’

After taking over the Royals early in the 2010 season, Yost managed teams that lost 97, 91 and 90 games before his fortunes turned.

‘‘I got an opportunity to take it to the next level that I didn’t get in Milwaukee, so I actually looked at [getting fired] as a good thing,’’ Yost said. ‘‘[Renteria] didn’t get the chance to take it to the next level [with the Cubs]. He’s going to get that opportunity [with the Sox]. For him, going back [to Wrigley], it’s probably going to be a different experience, but I think he’s in a pretty good spot. I feel good about it.’’

Veteran players and young players alike are comfortable with Renteria, whose style suits a rebuild well. But it remains to be seen whether he’ll be the guy to take the Sox over the top when the time comes.

Even after a bad experience with the Cubs, he’s not worried about that.

‘‘I don’t think like that,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘But I will share something with you that I always tell people in baseball: I will do my very best to leave a place better than when I came. That’s the only thing I can control.

‘‘I’ve never worried about my job; I worry about doing my job. Right now, I’m just worried about today. There’s too much to think about in the moment than to concern myself somewhere down the road. It’s not something I have in the back of my mind.’’

Follow me on Twitter @MarkPotash.

Email: mpotash@suntimes.com


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