White Sox manager Rick Renteria welcomes more scrutiny in 2020

The stakes are higher, the lights will be brighter and the lens with which Rick Renteria will be looked at will be of the zoom variety.

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White Sox general manager Rick Hahn (left) and Rick Renteria share a light moment on the back fields at Camelback Ranch. (For Sun-Times/John Antonoff)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The stakes are higher, the lights will be brighter and the lens with which Rick Renteria will be looked at will be of the zoom variety.

Renteria knows it, expects it and welcomes it as the White Sox, in his fourth season as manager, shift from rebuilding mode to postseason-push mode.

Renteria brought some of this on himself by being the first to say, as early as September, that it would be time to win in 2020. And that was before the front office equipped him with added firepower to help him compete with the Twins and Indians in the American League Central.

The Cubs hired Renteria to guide them through rebuilding years, only to fire him after one when Joe Maddon became available to manage instead. The Sox will give Renteria and his 274-373 lifetime managerial record a chance to carry on.

“A portion of his job has changed in that, on a nightly basis, he hopefully has the tools to win with,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “And therefore he’s going to have a few more arrows in his quiver, so to speak. And how he deploys them is going to be more interesting, and if it doesn’t work, obviously subject him to more scrutiny.”

Hahn and vice president Ken Williams have said all along that Renteria still wouldbe leading the Sox in this phase of the rebuild, and while they stick to their word, already there are skeptics, critics and second-guessers.

Such is life in the manager’s chair, whether you’re Renteria, Joe Maddon, Ozzie Guillen or Ned Yost, the latter three World Serieswinners. It just comes with the territory.

“I would assume and I would welcome the microscope,” Renteria said. “And that’s OK. That’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to be judged by anything and everything that goes on between the lines.”

Renteria, like Yost, gets judged for bunting, stealing and using the hit-and-run if he sees fit. With tactics like those in his managerial tool chest, Renteria certainly is not of the new-age mold of manager, although he says he uses all the metrics made available to him to give his team the best chance to win.

Analytics might not agree with some of his tactics, but metrics that are tapped from the same research pile suggest a manager probably doesn’t matter more than two wins or losses in a season.

Renteria has built a clubhouse culture and received the effort from players the front office wanted.

Yost did, too, managing the Royals to a World Series title in 2015 while infuriating critics by using the bunt and other old-school tactics to manufacture runs. And there he was, hoisting the trophy at the end of the season.

The Sox will hoist one, too, Renteria predicted. Perhaps not this season, and maybe not when he’s around. But they will “in the near future.” That’s how sold he is on their rebuild, in which he plays a significant role.

“Here’s how strong my faith is in the direction the organization is going,” Renteria said. “I will say this — whether I’m here or not, this organization will win the World Series here in the near future because of the direction we’re going.”

Royals general manager Dayton Moore, who watched Yost deal with the scrutiny of his old-school ways, can see it happening with Renteria at the helm.

“He’s worked really, really hard,” Moore said this week. “He’s set a great tone on the field. And just watching them from the suite, I mean, his players play hard. They run balls out, he holds them accountable.”

If the seat gets hot?

“I’m sure he’ll relish and embrace that,” Moore said. “Ricky has created the right atmosphere in the right environment to put the team in a situation to take the next step. Rick and Kenny and Jerry [Reinsdorf] have done an amazing job of just kind of timing this rebuild, using their resources wisely, building their farm system, making some very good trades and deals, bringing in some high-end talent, and then creating that culture on the field, in the clubhouse, allowing Rick to do that.”

These are getting to be fun times. Better than the first three years of the Renteria regime, including a 100-loss season in 2018 when the Sox used 51 players including 30 pitchers.

“We haven’t had any doubt that he was the right guy, not only for the early part of this rebuild where setting standards, teaching players, holding players accountable were paramount for the most important parts of the job,’’ Hahn said. ‘‘And as we transition to the next stage, that he was going to be fully capable of taking a championship-caliber roster and winning with it.”

With young players like rookie Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez on that roster, the player development and teaching elements are still part of the job. But now the Sox also are working their way to contender status. Renteria himself said so.

And while Renteria said the support he gets from Hahn, Williams and Reinsdorf is “unwavering,” he also knows that can change. It’s the nature of the business.

“That doesn’t mean that they can’t change their mind,” Renteria said.

And if they do, so be it, Renteria said.

There aren’t many people in baseball rooting for that to happen. Renteria seems to have few enemies, especially among those who played for him or coached with him.

“He’ll be successful because he’s consistent and players always want to play for him,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who worked alongside Renteria on coaching staffs in the Padres system, “and he gets the most out of his talent.”

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