White Sox

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo on new White Sox manager Rick Renteria: 'He'll do well there'

Cubs' Anthony Rizzo on new White Sox manager Rick Renteria: 'He'll do well there'

Though he only had one season on the North Side, the Cubs think highly of former manager Rick Renteria and expect he’ll succeed with the White Sox.

Promoted by the White Sox last month to replace Robin Ventura, Renteria managed the Cubs to a 73-89 mark in 2014. The 2014 Cubs played their best baseball down the stretch but chose to replace Renteria with current manager Joe Maddon after he opted out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Renteria sat out the 2015 season before he returned to the dugout as the White Sox bench coach in 2016. But several members of the Cubs said Renteria conducted himself well in his first season as a manager and his style should lend itself to success in his new opportunity.

“It was fun,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “I think he has the benefit now too of being there for a year so all their guys know him and what he’s going to bring. They know how good the guy is.

“He’ll do well there. I think he really will.”

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Cubs’ third-base coach Gary Jones worked with Renteria at several stops in the San Diego Padres’ farm system and again with the Cubs in 2014. He thinks Renteria’s upbeat personality, energy and effective personal skills make him a good leader.

"He’s going to be a good communicator, a calming influence, just a good person,” Jones said. “Not only is he a good baseball coach, he’s a good person in general. He has probably one of the biggest hearts of anybody I’ve been around. I can’t say enough good about him. He’s definitely going to be a positive influence in that clubhouse.

“He’s always been the energy, the positivity, just always dwells on the positive. I think that’s part of what makes him so unique is he’s just a good baseball person, but he dwells on the positive and he gets the most out of the players. Players love playing for him and that’s a big thing.”

General manager Jed Hoyer said Renteria was a particularly effective teacher to younger players. Ex-shortstop Starlin Castro had his best season ever when he played for Renteria in 2014. Castro hit .292/.339/.438 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs and was worth 2.8 f-WAR.

The team also produced its best two months at the end of the 2014 season, going 28-25 in August and September.

“I’m really excited for him,” Hoyer said. “He’s a wonderful person. He did a great job in San Diego. Obviously we’ve talked about it a lot here — I don’t think we were entirely fair to him. He did a good job for us. We just had a chance to hire who we thought was the best manager in the game, who had the experience and felt like was the perfect person for this job. Any other person and (Renteria) may well still be a Cub. I’m thrilled for him, and he must have done a really good job as their bench coach to make them kind of short-circuit the process and do it early. I think the White Sox will really enjoy getting to know him.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Live from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020

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NBC Sports Chicago

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Live from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020

David Kaplan is joined by Chuck Garfien as they speak with the newest White Sox winter acquisitions from this offseason as well as the current White Sox core from Opening Night of SoxFest 2020 in McCormick Place.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Dallas Keuchel apologizes in wake of Astros' sign-stealing scandal: 'I personally am sorry'

Dallas Keuchel apologizes in wake of Astros' sign-stealing scandal: 'I personally am sorry'

Dallas Keuchel started his White Sox tenure with an apology.

Keuchel said he was sorry Friday, the first player to do so in the aftermath of baseball busting Keuchel’s former club, the Houston Astros, for using technology to steal signs during their run to a world championship in 2017.

Keuchel didn’t get into too many specifics, nor did he reveal whether he played any kind of role in the Astros’ process of relaying the signs of opposing catchers via a center field camera and a monitor near the dugout, then alerting teammates to what sort of pitch was coming by banging on a trashcan in the dugout.

But he did apologize, doing so, perhaps, in an effort to speak for that group of players who have been the subject of much discussion since Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were fired earlier this month.

“I think, first and foremost, I think apologies should be in order,” Keuchel said before the opening ceremonies of SoxFest at McCormick Place. “When the stuff was going on, it was never intended to be what it’s made to be right now. I think when stuff comes out about some things that happen during the course of a big league ball season, it’s always blown up to the point of, ‘Oh my gosh, this has never happened before.’

“I’m not going to go into specific detail, but during the course of the playoffs in ‘17, everybody was using multiple signs. For factual purposes, when there’s nobody on base, when in the history of Major League Baseball has there been multiple signs? You can go back and watch film of every team in the playoffs, there were probably six out of eight teams with multiple signs. It’s just what the state of baseball was at that point in time.

“Was (what the Astros did) against the rules? Yes, it was, and I personally am sorry for what’s come about, the whole situation. But it is what it is, and we’ve got to move past that. I never thought anything would’ve come like it did, and I, myself, feel sorry. But you’ve got to move on.”

While no players have been punished for their roles in what happened in 2017, it remains somewhat head-scratching as to why the uber-talented Astros thought they even needed to do this sort of thing to reach the top of the baseball mountain.

Keuchel said Friday that sometimes the sign-stealing did give the Astros an edge and sometimes it didn't.

"To the extent of the whole situation back then, I can tell you that not every game there was signs being stolen," he said. "Some guys did a really good job. And sometimes we did as a group have signs, but we still couldn't hit the pitcher. So it wasn't like every game we had everything going on so at that point that's when the whole system, it really works a little bit, but at the same time there was a human element where some guys were better than our hitters."

In addition to offering up his own apology, Keuchel ever so briefly weighed in on the still-hot-button topic of whether former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers was right to act as a whistleblower and reveal details of the sign-stealing to the commissioner.

"That's a tough subject because it's such a tight-knit community in the clubhouse and in baseball, especially," Keuchel said. "You're playing 162 games, at least, in the regular season, plus spring training and then maybe in the playoffs, if you're lucky. So you're pushing 185 to 200 games (with each other), and it sucks to the extent of that the clubhouse rule was broken. And that's where I'll go with that. I don't have much else to say about Mike."

As for where things go from here, that remains to be seen. The Boston Red Sox remain under investigation for allegations of similar behavior during their run to a World Series title a year later. Alex Cora was the bench coach with the 2017 Astros and the manager of the 2018 Red Sox, and though baseball has not levied any specific punishment toward him yet, the Red Sox fired him. Carlos Beltran, the only player from the 2017 Astros mentioned in commissioner Rob Manfred's summary of the investigation, was fired from his briefly held post as the manager of the New York Mets.

"There are a lot of people who are sorry in that organization, including myself, for what happened," he said. "Do pitchers benefit from any of that? I mean, not really. But at the same time, we might've had a few runs more per game.

"In my instance, I did not. I was actually pretty mad about that, I didn't really enjoy that sometimes, but it is what it is and it just happened to come out that Mike said something and who knows.

"I don't think anybody else is going to come out and say anything from other teams. They see what happens now."

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