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Thursday, May 8, 2014
Renteria judged on 'tone,' not wins, for now

By Jesse Rogers

CHICAGO -- Not that we didn’t know it already, but as with his predecessor, Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria isn’t being judged on wins and losses. Not with the team whose best talent base resides in the minor leagues.

“It’s no different than it was with Dale [Sveum],” general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday afternoon. “We’re not at a place right now where we’re going to evaluate him based on the standings in the paper in the morning.”

So just like Sveum, Renteria is being judged on individual progress and the tone he sets.

“He creates a great environment for these guys,” Hoyer said. “A lot of guys are playing really well. A lot of guys are playing much better than last year. We’ve given him a young team, we’ve given him a young bullpen. He’s managed that really well. I like the tone.”

It’s true that players including Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo are having nice starts to the season, whereas Mike Olt and Junior Lake, for example, have had their struggles. Some of Renteria’s lineup choices have been curious, but at least he’s explained his strategy saying he prefers matchups rather than sticking with everyday players at certain positions. It’s too early to evaluate him as a motivator, teacher or even an in-game manager, but like most first-year skippers, he’s had his ups and downs.

One thing Renteria has shown is some emotion. In a day and age when manager ejections are no longer commonplace, Renteria has already been tossed three times. The players naturally like their manager sticking up for them, but there’s a fine line. What does it accomplish?

“I don’t know that you can get the next call,” Renteria explained. “You may even put yourself in a detrimental position quite frankly. So you have to be careful. It kind of cuts both ways.”

Hoyer agreed with that assessment. Getting a reputation as a complainer when it comes to balls and strikes won’t help the Cubs.

“There are times you have to vocalize that,” Hoyer said. “I’ve got no issue. I understand his frustration.”