Refusing to accept the notion that the Chicago Cubs are in a full rebuilding mode, new manager Rick Renteria has high hopes for his new team.
"The assumption that our team won't be able to play at a high level, I don't make that assumption," Renteria said in a conference call to announce his hiring Thursday afternoon. "I assume that every team that is put on the field ... has a chance to win a ballgame every single day."
The Cubs said Renteria, who signed a three-year deal that includes club options for the 2017 and '18 seasons, was a clear choice for manager and did a month's worth of due diligence before hiring him. They talked with players and coaches who worked alongside him over the course of his career.
"You can't find anyone in the game to say a bad word or even a neutral word about Rick Renteria," Cubs team president Theo Epstein said. "He excelled throughout the entire process."
Renteria, 51, says his reputation as a good communicator with young players comes from being a father of four.
"I've been involved in a youth movement almost my whole life," he joked.
Renteria was asked if his ability to speak Spanish was a plus for his new job considering the Cubs have several key Latin American players making their way through the system.
"I'm hoping I'm a good coach that happens to speak Spanish," Renteria said. "Engage the player as a human being first. The players need confidence."
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer worked with Renteria in San Diego and is confident he could handle the promotion.
"It was clear when I was in San Diego Rick was going to be a big league manager and pretty quickly," Hoyer said.
Renteria had been the bench coach for the Padres since 2011 after becoming a major league coach in 2008. He played infield for parts of five major league seasons after being drafted 20th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1980.
Renteria, who retired as a player in 1996 while with the Mexico City Reds, beat out A.J. Hinch, Manny Acta, Dave Martinez and Eric Wedge for the job. A fifth candidate, Brad Ausmus, was hired by the Detroit Tigers earlier in the week.
The Cubs reportedly weren't allowed to interview another candidate, Boston Red Sox coach Torey Lovullo, because of an agreement made when the Cubs hired president Theo Epstein in 2011 from the Red Sox.
The Cubs haven't made any announcements about their coaching staff, but Epstein indicated there would be some returning coaches from the previous staff and decisions would be made in the coming days and weeks.