Shed no tears for Rick Renteria.
Fired Monday for the second time in seven years as manager of a Chicago baseball team — this time after guiding the White Sox through a pandemic to a 35-25 record — he will walk away from baseball and into a likely retirement as a well-liked and respected man who guided the Sox to their first winning season in eight years and first postseason appearance in 12 years.
With a year left on Renteria’s contract, the Sox will pay him to spend time with his family in California as they turn the page to what they believe will be a better option — AJ Hinch is known to be at the top of their list to replace him — to lead them higher than one playoff series.
Renteria declined an opportunity for an interview, texting, “Thank you. It’s not my style. I really appreciate it, though.”
Typical Renteria, polite and friendly to the end of his managerial career.
In Renteria’s last weeks as manager, though, growing friction with the front office became more evident to those around him. After the Sox clinched a postseason berth on Sept. 17, general manager Rick Hahn said it was Renteria he was most happy for, and Hahn expressed similar thoughts for the coaching staff. But the Sox getting swept by the Indians in four tight games with a chance to put away the division crown and the days that followed into the 2-1 wild-card series loss to the Athletics were tipping points.
Even before that, not all was seashells and balloons between Renteria and the front office. Renteria and his coaches, including pitching coach Don Cooper, pushed back not entirely but to a degree on the in-game use of metrics and data as supplied to them by the Sox’ baseball operations staff, sources said. That — along with Renteria’s belief that the rebuild was ahead of schedule, yet his desire to add pitching help at the trade deadline fell on deaf ears — created some disharmony, sources said.
While Hahn declined to cite displeasure with any managerial moves that were made, ultimately it was Renteria’s decisions from the dugout that played into a decision made collectively by Hahn, vice president Ken Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to turn the page.
The Sox’ roster is stacked with young talent, and with a starting pitcher or two added here and a right fielder and a new designated hitter added there, it could be primed to talk World Series. Putting it in the hands of a proven World Series winner like Hinch, available only because of his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, seemed like the right thing to do rather than leaving it with a manager they lost faith in.
“Big things ahead for the White Sox!!!” left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who won a World Series and Cy Young under Hinch, tweeted Monday.
That they won’t include Renteria is the sad, cold and sometimes cruel element of sports that comes with the fun, fame and fortune. While Hahn termed the parting “mutual,” sources said Renteria was eager and optimistic about seeing the rebuild through and views the parting as nothing of the sort.
A family man and baseball lifer, Renteria turns 59 on Christmas Day. With the pendulum swinging to new-age managers, Renteria knows he has probably managed his last game and is at peace with it, having won the respect of almost all who played for and worked with him, earning high marks for creating a good clubhouse culture and guiding players such as Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito through struggles into stardom and going out with a postseason line on his Baseball Reference profile.
“I think he’s very much at ease with what he’s accomplished and what he was able to do with that team,” said a major-league source who knows Renteria well.