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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Renteria aims for a clear message

By Jesse Rogers

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There's one word that keeps popping up whenever new Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria speaks publicly as he did on Day 2 of the winter meetings.

Message.

Renteria was hired in part for his ability to communicate, and the Cubs are committed to getting their message across at the big-league level as well as they believe they did in the minors over the last couple years. Renteria's ability to speak Spanish and English will only help deliver it.

"The reality is, beyond speaking a different language, the message has to be clean and concise, clear," Renteria said Tuesday at the winter meetings. "I can speak both languages but if I don't articulate an idea or concept the right way it doesn't matter how many languages I speak."

It's a theme that's been repeated since the front office decided to change managers and most of the coaching staff. The Cubs weren't shy in admitting, in some cases, there were "mixed messages" being delivered to the players in the past. As Renteria and new bench coach Brandon Hyde discuss their first spring training this week, keeping the message clear and concise is a goal.

"I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel," Renteria said.

But he is trying to develop a certain culture despite an uphill battle in the win/loss column. His view entails acting like the "big boys" to become one.

"When we were kids and you're playing in the neighborhood and the older kids are out there playing you want to play with the older kids," Renteria said in talking about a tough Central Division. "I see us as guys that want to play with the older kids. It can only make us better, if, if we don't make excuses.

"They shouldn't be surprised if we don't execute one (drill in spring training) they're going to do it again. ... If you can't do in practice what makes you think you're going to do in front of 35,000-40,00 people when it matters?"

The lineup: Renteria and Hyde will eventually get to looking over potential lineups including the important role of lead-off man.

"I know over the course of his career Starlin (Castro) has led off quite a bit and has some significantly decent numbers in that spot, but as we put together the club ... we'll see where we're at with that," Renteria said.

He also anticipates an open competition for closer.

On Samardzija: Renteria is aware of the trade rumors involving pitcher Jeff Samardzija but insists it's business as usual. The two talked after Renteria got the job.

"Right now, the way I see it and the way he sees it, he's a Cub," Renteria said. "And we're going to move forward as Cubs."

The quote: "We can always make excuses for why thing aren't working out. I'm not an excuse maker." -- Renteria