CHICAGO -- A well-place phone call last year is ultimately what led to Rick Renteria’s hiring this week as Chicago White Sox bench coach.
After Renteria was unceremoniously dumped by the Chicago Cubs as manager last offseason once Joe Maddon became available, the longtime player and coach said he took some time for himself away from the game.
But he couldn’t completely escape since White Sox manager Robin Ventura called asking Renteria if he would be open to joining the South Side club in any capacity. Renteria wasn’t ready then, but he ready to go now as the replacement for Mark Parent, who was let go at the end of the regular season.
"I was talking to my family here and saying, 'I'm kind of getting excited about just working with players, just being out there on the field again,'" Renteria said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. "When you've been in this for a while, there are a lot of things you want to be able to impart. Obviously, we all know the game is always going to be about the players, but hopefully we as coaches and staff can impart something that will help them move forward. Hopefully, that's what I'll be able to do as part of the new staff here."
Ventura said that other than having some mutual friends, his path with Renteria hasn’t crossed all that much. Both are confident, though, that their low-key personalities will be a perfect fit in both the clubhouse and in the dugout.
"After meeting with them and talking with Robin over the phone a couple of times and then interviewing in person, I thought it was actually a pretty good fit," Renteria said. "I think our personalities will mesh. As a bench coach, I’m coming on board to make his job as easy as possible and transition into one of the rest of the staff. The conversation we had made it pretty easy for me to see myself coming on board with the Sox."
The White Sox nearly missed out on obtaining Renteria’s services. Had Bud Black been hired as manager by the Washington Nationals, a move that broke down at the last minute, Renteria would have been on his way to the East Coast as a coach on that staff.
Instead, Dusty Baker became the Nationals manager and Renteria agreed to a return to Chicago, only on the other side of town.
"I think there are a lot of things to bounce off of each other," Ventura said. "There’s help in there when you have a bench coach that comes in being able to read the room and see what’s going on inside the clubhouse and what’s going on in the game. He’s great at it."
As for the concept that Renteria is essentially around to take over for Ventura one day, the current manager isn’t going to make an issue of it. No matter who was the new bench coach, that concept would have been an underlying theme.
Last week, potential bench coach candidate Sandy Alomar Jr. voiced that sentiment while explaining why he didn’t want to interview with the White Sox. Ventura was asked about Alomar bringing that issue to the forefront.
"That doesn’t bother me; we are going into this as 2016," Ventura said. "I don’t expect any rift or anything else with Rick. I’m excited to have him come in. He’s excited to be here. We are trying to do things to win games. For me, the quality of person you are bringing in is the key thing, not any of the other issues people might try to create."