White Sox on board with Renteria’s hustle rule
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Shortstop Tim Anderson was back in the lineup Wednesday — just like manager Rick Renteria said he would be after benching him for not running on a low line drive that appeared to be caught but was ruled otherwise the night before.
Renteria always has made it clear that getting pulled would be a consequence for not hustling, and he has — including spring-training games — put Avisail Garcia, Leury Garcia, Welington Castillo and Anderson on the pine for breaking that rule this season.
Those players owned up to it and expressed their respect for a manager who won’t look the other way as many do when it happens. It probably helps, Renteria’s players say, that he doesn’t bog them down with too many rules.
“Ricky’s the manager, he set the rule in place from the very first day and he has the right to make that call,’’ Matt Davidson said. “We listen to it, and we all respect the decisions he makes.’’
Anderson came back ready to move. He went to his backhand deep in the hole to retire leadoff man Whit Merrifield to start the game and reached on an infield single his first time up. That, and Yoan Moncada’s leadoff home run, made for a good start to a game that went south in the third inning when the Royals started piling on runs against Dylan Covey (4„ innings, seven runs, four earned) and the bullpen in the White Sox’ 10-5 loss that dropped their record to 37-70.
Anderson said he was surprised he got pulled in that situation because he was sure the ball was caught. But Renteria, who slammed his hand on the bench when it happened, said the coaching staff preaches to “never assume the out,” and after an impassioned explanation for why he demands hustle, he stood his ground the next day.
“I’ll be real clear,’’ Renteria said. “I don’t care if you’re an older player or a younger player. I’ve done it with everybody I’ve had from [Jose] Abreu to Avisail Garcia to Welington Castillo. And every single one of them has accepted that this is the way we play the game here.’’
It’s not unusual for big-leaguers to conserve energy on routine ground balls and pop-ups, but being programmed to always go all out has its advantages. Abreu reached first on a dropped third strike Tuesday in part because he got out of the batter’s box quickly. Davidson has seen several instances “where our players with speed have benefitted from running every ball out.’’
“I like how it looks when we hustle out balls,’’ Davidson said. “We play teams when guys don’t run, and we’re like, ‘Man, that does look bad.’ We enjoy how we look when we run hard down the line and when it looks like we’re hustling. The fans deserve that. Players deserve that.’’
The manager might run a risk of losing his players if they’re embarrassed or feel shown up, especially with veterans, but there appears to be none of that in the Sox’ clubhouse.
“I can’t speak for others, but in Cuba I was taken out of a game for not giving my best effort,’’ Abreu said, “and I learned from it. That’s why I always try to give my best effort and hustle.
“I respect [Renteria’s] decisions. He’s here for a reason, and that’s to make us play hard.’’
As long as mutual respect exists, Renteria will carry on without issue. Davidson said players respect him because he’s transparent, has a relationship “with everyone in the clubhouse, tells it how it is, doesn’t have too many rules” and always keeps his office door open to talk.
Said Abreu: “He played baseball, he understands the things we as players go through. He treats us with respect and puts us in the best possible situations to succeed. You have to respect that. But the biggest thing is he’s just a good person. You always respect a good person and want to be around people like him.’’