By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — The transition from the North Side to South Side for new White Sox bench coach Rick Renteria has taken place with a one-year hiatus from baseball in between. The depression of being fired as Cubs manager in late October 2014 for no reason other than not being Joe Maddon has worn off of the affable Renteria, who’s happy to have a new team and and challenge.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
Renteria’s still getting paid by the Cubs not to manage the club. In one of the more bizarre situations in recent baseball history, the Cubs fired Renteria — despite him doing an excellent job of accomplishing what they’d asked — in order to hire the rock star in Maddon. For a time, it was so odd that the Cubs were paying three managers at once late in 2014, including Dale Sveum.
Renteria turned down numerous coaching and minor league managerial jobs in 2015. He’s now refreshed, renewed and ready for the challenge of helping manager Robin Ventura prepare the White Sox to compete for a playoff berth this season.
“All the guys have been responding very, very well,” Renteria said. “Robin has a really positive approach going with them. We are trying to implement a few things but at the same time not reinventing the wheel.”
The layoff after 35 years in professional baseball wasn’t easy for Renteria, but there appears to be zero rust from the down time.
“When you are talking baseball, it is an easy adjustment,” he said. “I am lucky. The guys I am working with have made it easy for me.”
Renteria is in charge of the base-running this spring. It’s no small responsibility, as the White Sox have been a dreadful team on the bases the last three years. Renteria and first-base coach Daryl Boston work every day with the players in camp trying to improve this aspect.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
“We have two voices trying to impart the same emphasis on base-running,” Renteria said. “They are trying to get this area down. It is something that I know Robin would want to make an important piece of the club.”
Part of the drills have the players receiving instruction on secondary leads and the different ways to approach running from each individual base.
“I am not trying to reinvent the wheel here,” Renteria said. “This is the way I was taught, learning the station-to-station way on the bases. The most important thing is they know they should be doing things a certain way. You can get away with one or two mistakes, but you stay on top of them to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Renteria will get his first coaching experience in the American League after working for the Padres from 2008-’13 and the Cubs in 2014.
“I will do the work and put the work in the video room,” Renteria said. “The amount of time it takes me find out what each club and player are doing is not a problem. It will be time-consuming but not a problem. It is what we do. It’s another aspect of what coaching is. I am here to be a sounding board for Robin. We are out there to the best job we can.”
Many inside and outside the White Sox organization believe it will be one-and-done stint for Renteria as the White Sox bench coach, suspecting he’ll generate plenty of interest for managerial jobs in 2017.
“He will be in high demand as a manger next season,” an AL general manager said. “He is over-qualified as a coach.”MORE NEWS: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.