CHICAGO – A post-practice news conference turned into an improptu Public Service Annoucement on Friday afternoon.
It started thanks to a question about whether the White Sox staff returned to Guaranteed Rate Field as a whole to start training for the 2020 season. Rick Renteria answered in the affirmative to that, saying that all of his coaches were present and accounted for.
That would then turn into the manager being insistent that he would due what he could to keep them and his players safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
“There is a real 100 percent guarantee that we’re going to do everything we can to try to mitigate it,” said Renteria when it came to risk over the virus.
Then Renteria reached out to his right, and pulled out something that people in Illinois are encouraged, and in someplaces required, to wear during this pandemic.
“Wear your mask, for goodness sakes,” said Renteria in a memorable moment. “We’re trying to do everything we can to allow guys to do everything they’re supposed to do.”
That journey started on Friday with open workouts at Guaranteed Rate Field, which is the first major gathering for the club since their spring training game on March 11th in Arizona. Renteria’s group has strong chemistry built between the players who spent the last three seasons rebuilding together.
This could be seen a few times during 2019 during the team’s celebrations of wins or major moments in games. Now forced to abandon those kinds of things for the sake of slowing down COVID-19, the White Sox face a unique challenge.
“It’s gonna be tough to keep guys apart because we like to have fun, and there’s a lot of exciting stuff we’ve got going on,” said shortstop Tim Anderson. “But I’m curious to see how it’s going to go, but it’s going to be tough to stay away from guys, man, I love my guys. I love to celebrate with them.”
Renteria will have to be the one to try to stop that now and when the regular season begins on July 23rd. Already on the first day of workouts, he can see how easily old habits can return amongst his group.
“They’re in their element, they like talking. You can very easily gravitate close and closer to each other,” said Renteria. “We have to be mindful of what’s going on right now. We’ll be as vigilant as we possibly can to make sure that everyone conforms to what’s necessary.”
Perhaps that won’t be hard considering the expectations both internally and externally for this rebuilt team. Hope is there that this group can make it to October for the first time since 2008, and a few restrictions won’t get in their way.
“So it’s all about continuing to bring that energy, even though guys can’t touch, we’re gonna continue to bring that excitement,” said Anderson.
With their manager staying mindful of the times, and probably wearing a mask while he does.