CHICAGO -- A few media members and a White Sox media relations representative were talking one October morning near the batting cages at Camelback Ranch, when manager Rick Renteria briefly strode up to the group.Renteria exchanged pleasantries and doled out a few pats on the back but quickly excused himself
CHICAGO -- A few media members and a White Sox media relations representative were talking one October morning near the batting cages at Camelback Ranch, when manager Rick Renteria briefly strode up to the group.
Renteria exchanged pleasantries and doled out a few pats on the back but quickly excused himself because he had to attend an instructional league contest in Mesa, Ariz.
Whether it's instructional league, Cactus League, regular season or even Intrasquad, it's still a part of the White Sox development toward a championship organization in Renteria's mind. The man who turns 56 on Christmas features an unending commitment to baseball and the team, emerging as the right fit at the right time to guide the club's rebuild vision and beyond.
"Listen, I don't think about the longevity of it," Renteria told MLB.com during a recent interview. "I think simply about the moment in which we exist at this particular time.
"Maybe it's just more to define what everybody would like for the organization to be identified as. So, I happen to be the person that's at the helm right now, trying to present a particular idea of how we want the organization to proceed in terms of how we perform between the lines, the attitude that we take.
"I just always believe you have to respect how you go about doing your business. That crosses timelines. It's the way I believe it's supposed to be played. That will remain, that doesn't change. Whether it's two years from now or 10 years from now or 15 years from now, that will always remain. There's nothing that can make me change. It's the way I'm put together."
From this strong, personal belief, the "Ricky's boys don't quit" mantra emerged during Renteria's first year at the helm on the South Side. It depicted the daily tenacity and intensity shown by the White Sox even when the team was undermanned.
In reality, the players reflected an attitude and approach set by Renteria from Day 1 of his tenure. It was an imprint left throughout the organization and lived by Renteria, who routinely arrived at the ballpark mid-morning for a 7:10 p.m. CT first pitch as an example, pouring over video with bench coach Joe McEwing and looking for any sort of edge to impart to his players. Renteria was creating an identity with his staff via a consistency of message.
Reliever Zach Putnam, who recently was non-tendered by the White Sox, regretted not being able to play a full season for Renteria as manager. Putnam's 2017 campaign came to an end on April 22, an elbow issue that led to Tommy John surgery.
"His enthusiasm was palpable from Day 1," Putnam said.
"He likes to work with everybody," White Sox second baseman Yoan Moncada said through interpreter Billy Russo. "Young players, veteran players, but especially with the young players, he has a connection. He likes to teach you, he likes to communicate with you in a clear way. And he's always asking you to play hard. That's something for young players, like me, it's created an impact."
T-shirts paying light-hearted tribute to Renteria popped up in the White Sox clubhouse during the '17 season, featuring some of his favorite sayings on the back such as "Never give up," "Keep fighting, keep grinding" and "Because we are White Sox." They are ways of life for Renteria, and in turn, for the franchise, specific ways playing out for a team in the development stage of a rebuild and when this same team reaches prime contending years.
"Every team, every now and then, spits out something that doesn't look very good, but I'm proud to say these guys have given me as much joy and pleasure in watching them grow and perform and play," Renteria said. "Not only these guys, but everybody who has been here since the beginning of Spring Training and those guys who have departed and are with other clubs. I'm very proud of every single one of those guys because they have contributed in a big way."
"Even when we are playing, he's always fired up and there's so much positive energy coming from him. He's definitely someone you want around you," shortstop Tim Anderson said. "He has the impact that brings you to keep going."
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.