By Cat Garcia
It’s easy for wisdom to be imparted on a team’s young core when that team is also fielding veterans like Anthony Rizzo, Jon Lester and even a young Kris Bryant. But when you’re White Sox manager Rick Renteria, sometimes you’re the one who has to impart that wisdom.
“That’s actually what you hope would become the norm,” Renteria said of the Cubs wealth of veterans. “I don’t think it’s just established here at the major league level, I think it’s established as the guys are going through the minor league system, as well. It becomes an organizational mindset as to how you deal with it.
“You don’t need to be a 12-year vet to impart to a teammate, ‘Hey, you’ve got to do a little better.’… But as the manager, those are the things that I still have to make sure I take care of.”
So far this season, Renteria has benched players for lack of hustle, such as Leury Garcia, who returned to the lineup Friday afternoon against the Cubs.
“It’s about trying to create the identity that we wish to have as far as who we are as an organization,” Renteria said. “We will get to that point, I think we’re nearing that point where conversations will be had where I don’t have to remove someone from the ballgame, but the conversation has to be had during that ballgame to make sure someone understands that that’s not something that is acceptable.”
Renteria has been proud of the accountability that these young players have taken on this season. Some may find Renteria’s positive spin on such a dreary situation a perfect opportunity for players to take on a laissez faire attitude about their actions. But Renteria proves that positive doesn’t necessarily mean passive, and it certainly doesn’t mean turning your head on situations that need to be addressed either.
“When you talk to them and you try to see what it is that they were going through in that particular moment in that particular game, their conversations are always accountable,” Renteria said. “‘I didn’t execute.’ ‘I sped myself up.’ Whatever it the case might be, they’ve taken accountability to their lack of performance, so to speak, if you want to say that. And by the same token, we also can give them props when they do do their job,”
“Once you allow that line to be crossed and it starts spreading a little deeper and everybody feels that it’s OK. It’s about changing the mindset.”
That isn’t to say that Renteria should shoulder the entire responsibility of disciplining this team himself, there are other figures in the White Sox clubhouse that are willing and able to be leaders, such as Jose Abreu and James Shields.
But as the months go on, what Renteria is doing is helping shape players such as Yoan Moncada, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito and the likes, into players that will be prepared to take on the duties of showing their future teammates in Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez what it means to not only say “Ricky’s Boys Don’t Quit”, but to actually live out that mantra everyday.