Back at Wrigley Field, Rick Renteria not concerned about managing again

Back at Wrigley Field, Rick Renteria not concerned about managing again

Rick Renteria returned to Wrigley Field this week, but instead of greeting the media in a large, well-lit room outside the palatial new home clubhouse, the former Cubs manager sat in a folding chair in the squeezed confines of the visitor’s clubhouse. The cramped setup even made the old Wrigley Field interview room/dungeon, where Renteria held press conferences as the Cubs’ manager in 2014, look spacious. 

But with Al Green and some other soul hits of the 1970s blaring from a speaker in his locker, Renteria — who’s in his first year as the White Sox bench coach — said he’s not concerned with when he’ll get another opportunity to manage after being pushed out for Joe Maddon as the Cubs accelerated their rebuilding process following the 2014 season. 

“I came out here to do the job I’m doing right now,” Renteria said. “I’ve always believed that whatever goes on after that kind of takes care of itself. You can’t really control those things and that’s how I’m viewing it. 

“I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing right now and whatever comes in the future comes in the future. And right now I can’t control that.”

The 54-year-old Renteria, who spent six seasons as a coach for the San Diego Padres before managing the Cubs to a 73-89 record two years ago, took a down-the-middle approach to that question about if his return to Wrigley Field brought back thoughts of managing again. He said he’s shook hands and received well-wishes from a few of his former players, and didn’t mention any animosity to how his exit from Clark and Addison went down.

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Whether or not Renteria gets another managerial gig remains to be seen. But his brief stint as skipper on the north side of Chicago is one he said he looks back upon fondly.

“I thought it was a good time,” Renteria said. “It was a lot of positive energy, a lot of possibilities and it was a great experience. Can’t deny it, it was a great experience.”

Notre Dame unit preview: Re-loading on the offensive line

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USA Today Sports Images

Notre Dame unit preview: Re-loading on the offensive line

With the start of Notre Dame preseason camp approaching fast, we’re looking at what to expect from each unit that’ll take the field in primetime Sept. 4 against Texas at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. Today, we wrap up the offense with Harry Hiestand's offensive line. 

Depth Chart

Left tackle

1. Mike McGlinchey (Redshirt junior)
2. Jimmy Byrne (Redshirt sophomore)
3A. Liam Eichenberg (Freshman)
3B. Parker Boudreaux (Freshman)
3C. Tommy Kraemer (Freshman)

Left guard

1. Quenton Nelson (Redshirt sophomore)
2. Trevor Ruhland (Redshirt freshman)

Center

1. Sam Mustipher (Redshirt sophomore)
2. Tristen Hoge (Redshirt freshman)

Right guard

1A. Colin McGovern (Redshirt junior)
1B. Hunter Bivin (Redshirt junior)
2. Tristen Hoge (Redshirt freshman)

Right tackle

1. Alex Bars (Redshirt sophomore)
2. Mark Harrell (Graduate student)
3A. Liam Eichenberg (Freshman)
3B. Parker Boudreaux (Freshman)
3C. Tommy Kraemer (Freshman)

Four of Notre Dame’s five offensive line spots were solidified coming out of spring practice: Left tackle (McGlinchey), left guard (Nelson), center (Mustipher) and right tackle (Bars). 

That leaves the McGovern-Bivin battle as the only remaining question on the Irish offensive line heading into preseason practice. Both are entering their fourth years in the program, but neither have started a game at the college level. 

McGovern was slowed by a concussion during spring practice but is finally strong enough to compete for a starting position, Kelly said back in March. Bivin is a natural tackle who offensive line coach Harry Hiestand said during spring practice operates well in close quarters, though, making him a decent candidate to slide inside at guard. Both players are probably on relatively even footing heading into August. 

There’s a decent amount of flexibility behind the five starters Notre Dame runs with against Texas. Harrell can play center, guard or tackle, while Hoge could either back up Mustipher at center or McGovern/Bivin/Nelson at guard, too. 

Biggest question: How good can the left side be?

With Ronnie Stanley and Nick Martin off to the NFL, and Steve Elmer taking a job in Washington D.C., Notre Dame’s most experienced offensive linemen are McGlinchey (14 starts) and Nelson (11 starts). But this doesn’t feel like a complete rebuild of the Irish offensive line, partly because Hiestand has consistently developed strong groups up front. 

The other part of that feeling is that the 6-foot-7, 310 pound McGlinchey and 6-foot-5, 325 pound Nelson showed last year plenty of reasons to believe they’ll lead the next wave of strong Irish offensive linemen. Both have garnered some future first-round draft pick chatter and will be given every opportunity to prove themselves. Expect Notre Dame’s offensive gameplan to frequently focus running plays to the left side of the O-line this fall. 

Youthful impact

Notre Dame has only played one true freshman offensive lineman in the Hiestand era, and that was Elmer, who enrolled early nine months before he filled in for an injured Watt in 2013. So it’s unlikely that Eichenberg, Kraemer or Boudreaux — all of whom were four-star recruits — will see the field this fall. 

Boudreaux, who had a health scare this summer when he came down with viral meningitis, is probably the most likely one of the three freshmen to move inside to guard down the road. If McGlinchey turns pro after this season — a few observers have tagged him as a potential 2017 first-round draft pick — there will be an opening at tackle that Eichenberg/Kraemer/Boudreaux could battle for next year, with the rest of 2016’s starting offensive line on track to return. 

They said it
 
“I’m depressed.” — Harry Hiestand, joking about not having a Martin (Nick or Zack) on his offensive line for the first time since coming to Notre Dame before the 2012 season.  

Bears camp shorts: Jay Cutler pick-free, QB's running, 'free hugs'

Bears camp shorts: Jay Cutler pick-free, QB's running, 'free hugs'

BOURBONNAIS — During a “team” session in Wednesday’s first practice of Bears 2016 training camp, cornerback Tracy Porter made a perfect break on a route by wide receiver Eddie Royal. The defensive back battled Royal for the ball, which then fell incomplete.

It was as close as anyone on the defense came to intercepting a Jay Cutler pass.

That wouldn’t really command much attention were it not that Cutler opened camp last year going 11 practices before throwing an interception in a drill, 7-on-7 or full-team session. It proved a foreshadowing of perhaps the single most important step forward by Cutler.

Obviously this is practice; it doesn’t count any more than preseason games do. But to dismiss any step toward ball security as insignificant is perspective-lite. The Bears track practice stats as part of their analytics for a reason, and “you play the way you practice” is a bromide of long standing for a reason. Had Cutler been throwing multiple picks every practice, the hand-wringing would have been epic.

[MORE: Kevin White not looking like a rookie as Bears open training camp]

Cutler did follow his improved ball-security camp by opening the season throwing interceptions in his first two games. Against Green Bay. Against Arizona. Against the No. 7 and No. 3 interception defenses in the NFL last year. He eventually threw four interceptions over his first six games — tying the lowest pick number through the first six games of any year in his 10-year career. The other year he had just four was 2011 — the year Cutler posted the best interception percentage (2.2) of his career. Last season was his second-best (2.3).

Reducing Cutler’s interceptions was THE primary specific targeted by Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains last offseason. What began in training camp carried over into the season.

- Jeremy Langford was haunted by a couple of costly pass drops last season, and improved receiving was a priority all offseason for the second-year running back. On Wednesday he consistently showed excellent receiving skills, wresting one catch away from linebacker Danny Trevathan.

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- Rookie Cody Whitehair stepped in at left guard with the No. 1 unit while Ted Larsen was dealing with a calf injury. On Wednesday, Larsen and Whitehair each were working at both guard and center as the Bears develop both versatility and competition levels at the interior-line spots….

- The Bears won’t be running heavy doses of read-options but that isn’t exempting quarterbacks from working on their running techniques along with backs and receivers, cutting, running and being buffeted by blocking dummies under the vociferous directions of running backs coach Stan Drayton.

- Think a little courtesy doesn’t help? A young boy stood along the ropes on Wednesday holding up a large sign, “Free hugs 4 Bears.” Yes, he did give out a couple of hugs and got some autographs and smiles in return.