The White Sox didn't wait long or look far to find their next manager after Robin Ventura announced his departure from the team Sunday after five seasons.
On the morning after the season ended, general manager Rick Hahn said he believes the Sox already had the best candidate in house.
Rick Renteria was introduced as the 40th manager in Sox history — and just the second to manage both the Cubs and Sox — at a news conference Monday.
Citing Renteria's high baseball IQ, tireless work ethic and ability to communicate across a multicultural clubhouse, Hahn said Renteria, 54, has been at the top of the Sox's internal list of potential managerial candidates for years. The team had about a month since Ventura announced his intention to leave to weigh their options, and they decided to eschew a full managerial search and hire Renteria.
Hahn acknowledged other candidates might have similar qualities as Renteria, who spent eight seasons managing in the minors, coached six seasons for the Padres and managed his lone major-league season with the Cubs in 2014. But he said Renteria's familiarity with the organization and players after a year as Ventura's bench coach and his "ability to seamlessly take over the position" and "hit the ground running" gave him the edge.
"There are some quality candidates out there," Hahn said. "Some of them might have been as good. We didn't feel any of them would wow us any more than Ricky had wowed us. At the same time, there is a benefit to him already having these relationships with some of these players. He knows what they are about, what buttons to push, what buttons not to push. And the players have a healthy level of respect for him on day one."
Hahn spent much of his time with reporters explaining why the Sox didn't want to fully explore their options and why hiring Renteria isn't maintaining the status quo in an organization that has put together four straight losing seasons and eight straight years without a playoff appearance.
He said he believes Renteria already has had a "tremendous influence" on Sox players and other coaches and once he assumes control the team could see a "real change."
"From being on the inside, he had to suffer through points of this season just like the rest of us did," Hahn said. "He has very strong opinions about various areas we need to improve upon and how we are going to start doing that in spring training. That's a nice advantage."
After shaking hands with Hahn and slipping on a Sox jersey, Renteria thanked Ventura for encouraging him to take the job and then described himself in a way most who covered him with the Cubs already have — positive, detail-oriented and focused on ways to encourage players to be at their best.
A former infielder who played 184 games in five seasons with the Pirates, Mariners and Marlins, Renteria said he hopes to bring "a little more intensity" to the Sox. He said he is happy with leading the team no matter which direction it goes in the offseason, whether it's rebuilding or trying to win in 2017, though Hahn again declined to state the team's offseason plan.
Rick Renteria on becoming the new White Sox manager. (Colleen Kane/Chicago Tribune)
"Whether it's a veteran club or a young club, my job is to get the most out of whomever it is that we're going to be presented with," Renteria said. "When you take a managing job, you try to do both, win and develop with younger players. … In either case you're trying to end up at the same place. You're trying to develop an organization and a club that's going to give you some consistency over an extended period of time and give you the ability to hopefully post up in the postseason."
Several Sox players gave Renteria rave reviews Sunday after word of his promotion leaked out.
"He definitely will get his point across a little more, vocally," outfielder Adam Eaton said. "Not that he has more passion than Robin or anything like that, but he's a little more upbeat, a little more bouncy. He's kind of a bundle of baseball joy."
Renteria is the only Latino manager in baseball and joins Hall of Famer Johnny Evers as the only people to have managed the Sox and the Cubs. Evers managed the Sox in 1924 and the Cubs in 1913 and 1921.
Renteria was fired so the Cubs could hire Joe Maddon after the 2014 season, and he spent a year away from baseball. When he returned to join the Sox last offseason, he largely stayed behind the scenes in regard to the media. He said Monday he bears no hard feelings toward the Cubs and his departure from the North Side taught him how to deal with change.
"Hopefully I've learned that these opportunities are fleeting and you have to try to take advantage of every moment that you have," he said.
The team didn't announce contract details for Renteria, but Hahn said he hopes it's "a long-term relationship." The Sox plan to make coaching staff announcements at a later date.