BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Though Wednesday’s press conference mostly dealt with Rick Renteria’s past, Robin Ventura is focused on what his new coach brings to the White Sox.
The White Sox introduced their new bench coach via a conference call Wednesday and --- in a not-so-shocking twist --- most questions for Renteria surrounded his abrupt dismissal by the Cubs a year ago.
But Ventura doesn’t care about what happened with the Cubs, nor is he concerned about the perception Renteria’s hire has created given his own contract status. Ventura, who has one year left on his contract, is just happy to have a coach of Renteria’s caliber on his staff and what it can mean for the White Sox next season.
“He’s not stained at all,” Ventura said. “We are looking at him -- we are bringing in a quality guy.
“He’s coming to do a job, he’s not looking back. But I think he’s eager for the opportunity. You can’t sit there and shy away from things. He doesn’t shy away from things like that. It is what it is and we’ll deal with that as we go along. I don’t look at that as we are always looking over our shoulder.
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
“We have stuff to do and that’s what he’s here to do.”
Still, this was the first time Renteria has addressed the Cubs’ decision to hire Joe Maddon and dismiss him after one season. Though he said he doesn’t have any hard feelings, Renteria admitted the move surprised him. He said Wednesday he exchanged texts with Maddon afterward but they never spoke --- “there was really no need,” he said. Renteria also didn’t believe he had much to gain from making any public comments.
“It would be foolish for anybody that's doing something or giving themselves to a task to not feel like, you know, you get the wind blown out of you a little bit,” Renteria said. “You take a step back. You regroup. I’m sure that there was no intent on anybody’s side to create a difficult situation. It was what it was. Quite frankly that’s something in the past. There are no hard feelings. There never was. When something like that occurs, you just want to take a step back and give it some space and some time. You really don’t want that to be the story. You want the story to be on the positive things that were going on there. That was a lot of the reason I just remained away.”
While they didn’t have a position open at the time, Ventura reached out to Renteria last December to express interest in potentially having him joining the White Sox coaching staff. Ventura sensed Renteria wanted to step back but also wanted to ensure Renteria knew he was wanted.
“You are always looking to bring in quality people and he’s definitely one,” Ventura said.
When it became clear Bud Black wouldn’t take over as the next manager of the Washington Nationals late last month, Renteria felt like the White Sox were the next best fit. He had already spoken to Rick Hahn once before and remained in constant communication. Once Black’s negotiations stopped, Renteria quickly met a second time with Hahn and Ventura.
While they didn’t know each other much before, Ventura and Renteria have spent a fair amount of time with each other recently and are comfortable.
“I thought it was actually a pretty good fit,” Renteria said. “I think our personalities will mesh. As a bench coach, I’m coming on board to make his job as easy as possible and transition into one of the rest of the staff. The conversation we had made it pretty easy for me to see myself coming on board with the Sox.”
Ventura doesn’t foresee any difficulties surrounding speculation that Renteria has been hired to ultimately succeed him. Headed into his fifth season, Ventura knows speculation and rumors come with the territory. He’s not fazed and is more interested in what a valuable addition can do for the club.
“That stuff doesn’t bother me,” Ventura said. “I don’t expect any rift or anything else with Rick. I’m excited to have him come in. He’s excited to be here. We are trying to do things to win games. For me, the quality of person you are bringing in is the key thing, not any of the other issues people might try to create.”