CHICAGO – He’s had to wait a while for a chance like this.
When he was with the Cubs in 2014, the team was still in the midst of a rebuild before breaking out the next year. When he took the manager job starting in 2017 on the south side after a year as bench coach, the franchise was just beginning a complete retool of their franchise.
“Win now” isn’t a luxury that Rick Renteria has had as a manager, as he’s been in charge of helping young talent progress towards success. But 2020 is different, at last, for his veteran of the game who finally gets a team to push towards the playoffs.
Needless to say, Renteria’s a bit giddy about the opportunity.
“I think we’re all very excited. I know I’m trying to contain myself,” said Renteria of the upcoming season before Sox Fest. “I talked to a group in this room, in particular, yesterday, and I was trying to stay in my seat. We’re looking forward to a positive season.”
With a young core of players along with the offseason additions of Edwin Encarnacion, Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, and others, many fans expect this team to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008. While it’s warranted, it does put immediate pressure on Renteria to get this group playoff-ready in a hurry.
Should the White Sox underperform, it could lead to calls for Renteria’s replacement after the season. But instead of downplaying the expectations, the manager is embracing them while also setting his own high expectations.
“I would be disappointed if we don’t make the postseason,” said Renterial “That would be accurate. We want to breakthrough. We want this to be an impactful season.”
That would be refreshing for the manager and the team, who has seen little success since the rebuild started with the trade of Chris Sale in December of 2016. The team won 67 games in 2017 as more players were traded away at the major league level, with things crashing out in 2018 as the White Sox went 62-100.
Improvement was seen across the board, especially with some of the prospects, as the team pushed their win total to 72. With the new acquisitions and continued development of young talent, seasons like that won’t cut it, and for some, neither will missing the playoffs in 2020.
But don’t think that expectation is going to rattle Renteria.
“I’m not afraid of numbers, and I’m not afraid of talking about high expectations and winning. I know most people, they talk about because they think you’re putting your own head in a noose,” said Renteria when asked about expectations. “Listen, we’re gonna be what we’re gonna be. If we do our job and we go about preparing and hopefully the actions, the performances come to fruition. We should be on top of the victory column in terms of wins and losses.
“There’s nothing beyond my thought that doesn’t say that I expect us to try to be competing and be in the conversation for postseason play. That’s what it’s all about, bottom line. It will be up to everybody to decide whether we did the job that we were supposed to do as coaches or managers. I can’t worry about that. I never have and never will. My job is to make sure I focusing on doing what I do and I allow my players to do what they do and leave them free to perform.”
After years with rebuilding teams, Renteria can finally do the same as a manager with a strong roster as his disposal.