Rick Renteria has been the manager of the Chicago Cubs for a month now, but hadn’t been properly introduced because of his recovery from hip replacement surgery. That changed yesterday when he was presented before the media at Wrigley Field. What did we learn on Rick’s first day at Wrigley? That managing the Cubs is his dream job.
As a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1986, he played his first game at Wrigley on Sept. 14 and got a hit in his only at-bat.
‘‘He had his picture taken in front of the park,’’ his wife Ilene remembered. ‘‘It was the only place he ever had his picture taken.
‘‘I’m not just saying this — this was the job he always wanted. He was absolutely thrilled.’’
Is he going to fix Starlin Castro?
‘‘People ask me about Starlin. He was one of the first I spoke to and we spoke at length. I watched him from the other side and thought ‘what a tremendously gifted athlete.’ He’s willing to do whatever we ask him to do.
‘‘The reality is you have to have dialogue. You have to put forward as best a plan on how [each player] can move forward.’’
What does he envision from his coaching staff and team?
‘‘They’ll bring the idea that we want to teach,’’ he said. ‘‘We have to present a consistent message. I want this to be a club that gives tremendous effort. We want to be a club that is aggressive on the bases and is smart. I’m very excited about the guys we have now and the talent in the organization.”
Was Theo Epstein a bundle of nerves that Renteria might go off script during the press conference?
“Normally, when you hire someone new and he meets the media for the first time, you’re kind of holding your breath and hoping he doesn’t put his foot in his mouth,” Epstein said. “We’ve worked with Ricky for a month now. I was totally comfortable and checking emails while he was talking. I feel already an innate trust in who he is as a human being.
“Everything comes from such a genuine place. He’s extremely intelligent and relates to people well. It’s nice to trust somebody in that role.”
Theo is already so bored by Renteria that he was checking emails during the press conference? I thought it might be interesting to see what Theo said about Dale Sveum when he was brought forth before the Chicago media.
“He knows the game inside and out,” Epstein said. “He has a great combination of intelligence and intuition both between the lines and in the clubhouse. Next is his rare ability to hold players to high standards and hold them accountable, while also earning their respect and admiration. Dale demands a lot of his players but is held in universally high regard by them. That’s a tough thing to pull off.”
That was from November 19, 2011.