By Bruce Levine —
CHICAGO (CBS) — With any rebuilding sports franchise, comes the arduous task of keeping your players focused through the inevitable losing that must take place.
The rebuilding Chicago White Sox came to the realization last summer that Rickey Renteria would be the perfect manager to teach, and keep players focused, through the tough times.
Renteria, of course, a career player development expert, has the patience and determination to get the best out of rosters that will turn over once — and then again before the core group of future Sox stars is likely identified.
Showing extreme passion and dedication has been the calling card for Renteria. He was ejected for the sixth time this season on Saturday evening.
“It seems every time Rickey goes out there he has a good reason,” said infielder Tyler Saladino. “It is great to see him have our backs and how much we can count on him. He is showing that he is willing to put out as much effort and passion that he asks us to show every day.”
The Renteria and White Sox philosophy is based on forgetting a bad loss or good win from yesterday. Concentration and focus on said day, as well as planning for that game, is expected from the manager and organization.
“If our players and anyone want to be with the Chicago White Sox that [commitment] is going to be expected of them,” Renteria strongly emphasized. “That is always going to be a part of what we do here. We are privileged to be playing professional baseball at the major league level. If you don’t find the energy and desire to put that out there, maybe this is not the place for you.”
Very strong language from a man who has the tough job of motiving a team that is short on winning talent. In fact, Renteria knows losing is a big part of the rebuilding process at the beginning of the journey. This is a tough sell under the most favorable of conditions.
As for now, he has to keep a message going that doesn’t sound like the same rah-raw that all losing managers and coaches spew out daily.
“We are trying to establish a different culture here,” said Saladino. “Rickey is in charge of making sure the game and approach is handled properly every day. He has let us know with the same message every day to have the same approach since spring training. Under Rickey, you know you must be focused, you must be prepared. If anything good or bad happens, we feel the preparation and focus were there and that we handled things up to that point in a proper way.
“That is what we have heard from day one from our manager and coaches. Rickey makes strong sincere statements to us. You had better pay attention and not zone out. You must realize how serious he is. Passion and pride are something he puts into this each moment. He puts in a tremendous amount of time and energy. We all are aware of that.”
Renteria has a good understanding of not overstating his message.
“As a manager, everyone develops their own style,” Renteria said of his teaching methods. “You hope you have conversations with your players at the appropriate times. Like anyone, I am capable of making many mistakes. One of them may be my lack of timing. I think we all have a sense about when we should speak to the players about important issues. They want them to be open to responding to that message.”