Cubs: Who is Rick Renteria?

Cubs: Who is Rick Renteria?
November 7, 2013, 12:30 am
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Tony Andracki

Toward the end of his playing career, Rick Renteria was known as "The Secret Weapon."

The Cubs are hoping he proves to be exactly that when they announced he was the team's new manager Thursday.

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Renteria doesn't have the "wow factor" of Joe Girardi, but once Girardi passed on the job in early October, the Cubs turned their attention to Plan B.

Despite weeks of interviews and rumors, Renteria is still largely an unknown in Cubs circles.

The 51-year-old California native spent the past six years on the San Diego Padres big-league coaching staff, the last two of which he served as the bench coach.

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Renteria is bilingual and carries a solid background with hispanic players, two characteristics the Cubs held in high regard during their search. Renteria, who managed Team Mexico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, will help bridge the gap between young, Spanish-speaking players — like Cuban native Jorge Soler — and those guys who are already established in the big leagues, like Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro or Jeff Samardzija.

The veteran coach also has unique insight into Rizzo's past, having witnessed the slugger's MLB debut and the initial struggles Rizzo went through when he was first promoted to the Padres as a 21-year-old in 2011.

[MORE: The Rizzo/Renteria connection]

Renteria is widely respected around the game and boasts a strong player development pedigree that stems from eight years of working in the minor leagues. He is familiar with the Chicagoland area after managing the Kane County Cougars (now a Cubs affiliate) in 1999, when he was named Midwest League Manager of the Year.

The former first-round draft pick (20th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1980) played 184 games in the big leagues, hitting .237 with a .608 OPS and four homers. He earned the nickname "The Secret Weapon" while with the Florida Marlins in 1993 thanks to his clutch play (.351 average in 74 at-bats with runners in scoring position).

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Renteria turns 52 on Christmas Day and is recovering from hip surgery he had done shortly after the 2013 regular season ended. His big-league coaching experience dwarfed that of Brad Ausmus', a guy Theo Epstein and the Cubs front office reportedly thought highly of before he signed with the Detroit Tigers last weekend.

CSN's David Kaplan spoke with a former GM on Monday who said Renteria has been high on the Cubs' list since Dale Sveum was fired and once Girardi made his decision, Renteria was the most logical choice based on the criteria set by Epstein.

"I know the Cubs have been very high on Rick since they started the search," the former GM told Kaplan. "He is a very solid baseball man and he will have an impact on their young players.

"But, let's be honest. Until they give him a roster that can compete, it is going to take time. He will be very good at developing players and holding them accountable."