By Bruce Levine–
MESA, Ariz. (CBS) — The former Cubs manager lost his job to the current Cubs manager. The former Cubs manager is now the White Sox manager.
Strange dugout fellows? Not so, if you ask the White Sox’s Rick Renteria and Cubs’ Joe Maddon about each other. The two faced off Monday at Sloan Park for the first time.
“He is awesome,” Maddon said of Renteria. “I think he is a wonderful man. I would love to have a beer with him sometime if the schedules match up. He has been just wonderful.”
A mutual-yet-somewhat awkward respect is shared by both. Renteria took a year off from the game after the Cubs fired him in favor of hiring Maddon in November 2014. Renteria was paid around $3 million by the Cubs over the next two years.
For Renteria, that helped ease the pain of rejection by his former employers.
“Baseball does what it does,”Renteria said. “We all must take account of ourselves. We have to find some balance. I said this before, there are worse things that have happened to people. Initially, you feel a sense of a blow.”
Renteria stayed out of baseball in 2015. He was offered coaching and player development jobs, but the sting from being fired after a successful season of development as the Cubs manager needed time to wear off.
The Cubs’ young players such as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo had bounceback seasons under Renteria in 2014, and the team had a winning record in the second half of the season it entered with an overmatched roster.
“Sure, that was part of it, it would be a lie if I didn’t say that helped get through all of it,” Renteria said of the buyout. “You clear your mind, look for a spot to re-enter and to hopefully do the job in a positive way.”
Renteria hopes to sit down with Maddon someday and talk ball — but not likely at the ballpark.
“I will say hello to everybody,” Renteria said of the Cubs. “There is nothing wrong in saying hello. I tell my players if you want to get in depth, take them out to dinner or take them out to lunch.”
The real competitive juices will flow for Renteria and Maddon when their teams face each other in four games in late July in the regular season.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.