GLENDALE, Ariz. — When the time comes, Rick Renteria will be the White Sox’ guy.
When the team is through the rebuilding phase that Renteria is overseeing in his second year as manager, he’ll still be the man.
That’s what his boss, general manager Rick Hahn, is certain of — short of offering an unreasonable guarantee. The Sox won’t do what the Cubs did to Renteria, firing him when a bigger name and more established option (Joe Maddon) became available.
For one, it’s not chairman Jerry Reinsdorf’s style. Loyalty is.
For another, the Sox’ front office, from Reinsdorf on down, is beyond pleased with what Renteria is doing.
“We view Ricky as not only the right steward for this club through this rebuild and into the next phases, but ultimately the right guy to lead us to championships here in Chicago,” Hahn said. “That hasn’t changed at all. If anything, that has been reinforced by the work he’s done in this clubhouse.”
Hahn followed that with an emphatic, “Absolutely.”
Then he followed that by saying, “There are no guarantees in sports, of course,” and that “things change.” They changed for the Cubs when Maddon became available, right? And who knows? Maybe Renteria changes in a way that changes his superiors’ view of him.
But Hahn doesn’t see that happening.
“From everything we’re looking for in a manager, whether it’s pregame preparation, to the culture he’s creating, to the way he’s handling individual personalities, putting players in position to succeed, that’s what we’re looking for,” Hahn said. “That’s going to serve this organization well when we’re in position to win championships, just as well as it serves us now as we develop talent.”
Renteria received high marks from above in 2017 for his handling of a clubhouse that knew a rebuild was underway and that trades were imminent. Talented, veteran players dealt with trade rumors and then got traded, depleting a roster.
The Sox lost 95 games.
“And at the other end of the spectrum, Ricky grew the young players, and that’s a challenge,” Hahn said. “He handled it flawlessly.”
In 2018, the Sox might lose another 90 games or so, but Hahn wants Renteria to oversee the vital, continued development of middle infielders Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada and starting pitchers Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and perhaps Carson Fulmer “to continue on the upward trajectory to cement their spot as part of that next core,” Hahn said.
More young prospects will be brought up — perhaps Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech, to name the top two — just as Moncada, Lopez and Giolito were eased in last season,. And Ren-teria will be called on to see them through the struggles.
“That’s an important step,” Hahn said. “And from a macro level, we want to see the team play hard for 27 outs as relentlessly as it did last year. It was summarized by the ‘Ricky’s boys don’t quit’ mantra, but it’s really more the approaches they take from the time they arrive at the ballpark and take that to the field for the final out. That’s an important cultural identity we want regardless of what talent is in that clubhouse, and [it] will serve us well in the long term.”
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