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Thursday, October 17, 2013
Renteria, Martinez are intriguing candidates

By Jesse Rogers

Dave Martinez
Dave Martinez has been Joe Maddon's bench coach since 2007.
Padres bench coach Rick Renteria and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez both have at least one thing in common: The ability to relate and teach the game to Latin-American players, according to those who have worked with the Chicago Cubs managerial candidates.

It's a theme that keeps coming up in the Cubs' search for a new manager. With several key prospects of Latin-American descent in the organization, including some who don't speak English, sources say the the ability to work well with Latin-American players is one of the qualities the Cubs are looking for in their next manager.

"Communication is key with [Renteria] as he has an open dialogue with the players," former Cubs broadcaster and current Padres announcer Andy Masur said via e-mail. "He has helped bridge the communications gap with some of the young Latin players as well. That could be a key ingredient for the Cubs with Starlin Castro and Junior Lake, etc."

Masur gives credit to bench coach Renteria for the progress made by young Padres players such as outfielder Will Venable and shortstop Everth Cabrera.

"He's a teacher and has a ton of baseball knowledge," Masur said.

That's probably similar to a lot of candidates, but if teaching young players -- with an emphasis on Latin-Amercians -- is a strength, then Renteria certainly checks a couple of the boxes in terms of what the Cubs are looking for.

But he's not an ex-Cub like Martinez. Team president Theo Epstein made it clear when he fired Dale Sveum on Sept. 30 that having an ex-Cub at the helm wouldn't be a bad thing, and it could even be a plus. Of course, it's not No. 1 on the list of attributes needed to be hired, but as Martinez interviews with the Cubs on Thursday, it's something to keep in mind.

"He played a lot of baseball games," former Cub David DeJesus said on Wednesday. "He was in the major leagues for a while. He has a ton of experience."

DeJesus started the season with the Cubs and joined the Rays for their playoff run late this season. He says he liked what he saw in Martinez, especially in dealing with Latin-American players, such as the hand he had in Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar's career. Plus, Martinez is a sabermetrics believer.

"He does all the numbers work for [Rays manager] Joe [Maddon]," DeJesus said.

Working with Maddon since 2007, Martinez has certainly been in a position to see some of the best in the game.

"(Martinez) has one of the best role models right next to him," DeJesus said. "That's a manager that if he was a free agent, he would be highly coveted."

Maddon is considered as good as they come in the game, and his relationship with general manager Andrew Friedman is viewed as an "ideal one," as one league executive said recently.

Renteria and Martinez have qualities that could make them attractive to the Cubs, but neither has major league managerial experience. And that means how they communicate with players in that particular role is still unknown. Their interviews this week with the Cubs front office undoubtedly will shed some light on what they can do as first-time managers. Will the Cubs role the dice on a rookie again? Stay tuned.