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Winter Meetings interview with Rick Renteria

Q. When you hear the word "rebuild" mentioned in conjunction with the White Sox, what goes through your mind?
RICK RENTERIA: Honestly, I haven't heard the word because I haven't really been -- you guys know me, I don't do a whole lot of reading. Most of my information comes from the guys that know what they are doing. Obviously we got back a couple of high-end prospects, and we're looking forward to see how they end up developing with us as White Sox.

You know, we're obviously going to miss Chris. He was an integral part of our organization and our team. My only concern is obviously whatever players, what group of players I have, those are the ones I have to manage. So at this point, we have what we have right now and we'll see how it continues.

Q. When you hear the word "rebuild" mentioned in conjunction with the White Sox, what goes through your mind?
RICK RENTERIA: Honestly, I haven't heard the word because I haven't really been -- you guys know me, I don't do a whole lot of reading. Most of my information comes from the guys that know what they are doing. Obviously we got back a couple of high-end prospects, and we're looking forward to see how they end up developing with us as White Sox.

You know, we're obviously going to miss Chris. He was an integral part of our organization and our team. My only concern is obviously whatever players, what group of players I have, those are the ones I have to manage. So at this point, we have what we have right now and we'll see how it continues.

Q. When you started the conversations with the front office before you got hired, was there the transparency that there might be different players, there might be younger players, you might be in a mode like they are assumed to be in right now; that it could be a rebuild over a couple years?
RICK RENTERIA: I think that the conversations we had, when I expressed myself, the ability or the desire to be able to handle either/or. There was talks of the possibility, but there was nothing set in stone at the time obviously. But again, it goes back to me handling the job with whomever it is that we have available to us and trying to get the most out of those guys that we have.

Q. Your reputation has been that you've been good with younger players, and apparently that's what's coming in right now. Looking forward, how do you position yourself to deal with that?
RICK RENTERIA: You know, again, whoever it is we have, I think when you're looking at an organization, and that's what we're looking at as a whole, everybody plays a huge hand in helping these young men develop. My conversations with coaches allows them the autonomy to do what they do, the hitting coaches and fielding coaches, the pitching coaches. We have guys with a tremendous amount of experience.

The one thing that I think the game, the industry, has shown is that younger players are filtering in a lot sooner than they used to in the past. You still have to continue to teach at the Major League level, and that's one thing that's evident throughout. I think you have organizations that have kind of shifted their mode and started building with a younger core of players, and you have to have a vision and an idea of how you want to move forward with them. But the one thing that you have to have is belief and trust. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it's doable, obviously.

Q. When you have a transient group of position players at the Major League level, how difficult is it for coaches and managers to deal with that, and more importantly, how difficult is it to establish leadership when you have many changes in the position player group every year?
RICK RENTERIA: I think as the manager, you have to establish, you know, what your vision is and what the vision is of the organization in terms of who we're going to be.

Most of the times, when I'm talking to guys right now, even in small conversations, we talk about playing the game. And that means that you have to be a selfless individual. People have to buy into that idea. This is an industry that rewards the players with compensation, but you are always trying to establish players' ideas in terms of how they are going to perform for you as an organization and know that if you win, everybody wins.

And I've said that before. You guys have heard me say the same thing. But guys have to know that they are going in there to do a particular job. They have to take care of their piece and everybody has to follow suit.

And ultimately, and I know it's a cliché, ultimately I know it's about the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

Q. Do the leaders have to be anointed from within the realm?
RICK RENTERIA: I think leaders kind of express who they are over time. You have to earn trust. People's trust is earned through your actions and through your conversations, through your consistency and approach and conversations that you have with them. They need to know that when you say something, you mean it and that you follow through with it and that you'll try to hold a consistent line across the board with everybody in terms of commitment.

You want guys to go out there and enjoy the game. It's a very difficult game to play. But there's a process to everything. We all know that. They've got to take those steps to give themselves the chance to do what they need to do and trust in garnering other players to come in and be leaders. Takes time. It's also a process. I don't think you can bully your way into doing it. It doesn't really serve -- in the long term, it doesn't serve a good purpose.

Q. Obviously Moncada is the big name in the group that you guys got yesterday. What do you know about him and what's your thoughts about working with a top prospect?
RICK RENTERIA: I've seen a little video of the guys. Moncada, the first clip I saw of him, he reminded me a little bit from his set up and everything of Peno (phonetic), and now he's a switch hitter and shows some discipline at the plate. I know that at 21 years of age, he still has a long way to go in terms of what he's ultimately going to be. I think he's a very talented human being who we hope is going to be an impact-type player.

Kopech is a young man who is about 6'3", very good arm. Obviously we have people within the organization that believe that we can harness that strength and that skill set and have him become a pitcher, command the zone, things of that nature.

But, again, our job is going to be to have these guys become as quickly -- to become as comfortable as quickly as possible with the way that we are going to go about preparing to play the game, and hopefully they enjoy it.

Q. How much do you like molding or working with young players?
RICK RENTERIA: You know, I don't mind working with young players. I also think that the one thing that you have to do is -- we were just talking about this earlier. But every human being is the sum total of all their experiences, so you've got to get to know people first, see what it is that motivates them, what kind of clicks with them to get them to act out on certain things that you might have them perform on a more consistent basis.

I think that baseball has its own language. It's something that is indescribable at times. But working with the younger guys, I relish it. I look forward to it. But I also look forward to working with older veteran players, too. It's the same. My approach doesn't change a lot, other than you give people with experience their place.

Q. You alluded to players coming up sooner than they used to. Do they come up too soon, really, in your view, in terms of development?
RICK RENTERIA: In terms of their experience, it might be at times too soon for some more than others. You have guys that you can call up and they spend a stint with you for a little bit. You kind of gain from information from their experiences there and they gain knowledge and experience, and you may end up sending them back out, but it's not a loss.

The truth is their skill set, if it's performing at a high level and helping you win ballgames on a daily basis, or at least giving you a chance to win ballgames on a daily basis, then they remain and they continue to grow there. The super elite, there are some super elite guys now in the Big Leagues that come up very young and learn how to play the game at the Major League level.

So if their skill allows them the opportunity to perform and be there, then so be it. The whole point is hopefully that as an organization, you structure yourself to have the identity and mind-set that keeps them consistently moving forward and being the guy that helps transition the other young guys that end up moving up as time goes on.

Q. After watching things melt down last year, is it exciting for you to be on the ground floor of the new direction the White Sox seem to be taking?
RICK RENTERIA: First of all, I'm extremely excited for the opportunity. But I also see that there seems to be a commitment obviously to trying to make some adjustments. Obviously in this trade it brings in some youth and some strength in terms of power with the pitcher and an impact-potential position player and the other two kids we got.

I'm looking forward to just being able to be a part of something that is hopefully positive moving forward. My experiences in the past have served me well, I think, and I'm going to use them to my advantage at this time.

Q. What have you been doing since you were hired?
RICK RENTERIA: Season finished. My wife and I went to New York for a few days, and then came back. We went to the Instructional League. We were there for three or four days and went to the Dominican to see the kids in the Dominican, which was really nice.

I remember pulling up, telling everybody it kind of reminded me a little of Pirate City a little bit. They have their fields there. I saw them work, I saw their energy, and all the things that we should never lose in terms of being professionals, that energy and love for just being out there and playing. I saw that. It's a nice reminder to all of us.

I think everybody forgets how much time and energy development puts into development of players. I just wanted to make sure they knew we cared about all of them and look forward to working alongside and helping us move forward.

Q. Managing this team for the first time, do you think it's harder or easier to do it in a rebuilding year as far as outside scrutiny?
RICK RENTERIA: As far as outside scrutiny, we've talked about this, I've never really worried about being scrutinized or asked questions about why I do what I do, how I do it and when I do it. That's not an issue with me.

I think if you have young players, if it becomes a younger group, a younger core, you're worried about making sure you're not stunting their development. I worry more about that than worrying about answering questions about how I manage the game.

Q. Someone said to me in a quiet way that you are a disciplinarian with younger players, too. Can you let us in on that?
RICK RENTERIA: Again, I think that we're intended to play the game a certain way. I think that everybody has to buy in to working well, preparing to play the game a certain way. I think hustle is important to me. I think the ability to be disciplined is important to me. But I also know that you have to enjoy the game that you're playing. You don't want to make it a burden. You want to make it something they buy into because they know it's the right thing to do.

Will I have a hand in dealing with certain issues? Like every manager does. I might do it in my office and I might do it wherever it needs to be done at a particular time. Yeah, I think discipline is a part of my responsibility and I think it's something that I'll be dealing with as we move forward.

Q. What type of attitude do you want your team to have?
RICK RENTERIA: I want a high energy -- we want to beat everybody's attitude on a daily basis. At least give ourselves a chance.

Again, winning and losing are results, and we've talked about this, and you guys hear this all the time. I know they are clichés, but we go out and prepare these guys to play the game the way they are supposed to and give them a chance to have the other club say: These guys never quit. If we can have an opponent say that we never quit, then we're on our ways.

Q. As far as the potential of your team right now, you have three potential free agents that are still on the team after next year. How do you get to them as far as playing a team game, as opposed to looking forward to their free agency and trying to put up numbers?
RICK RENTERIA: I think people confuse, or maybe -- I don't see their being a conflict. I think if you play the game and do things the way you're supposed to, you're still going to generate your numbers. I don't think you pigeonhole a power hitter to be a slap hitter. You don't make a Porsche a Volkswagen and you don't make a Volkswagen a Porsche. They are who they are.

You still have to understand that there are certain aspects of the game that you want to emphasize. I think if they buy into just knowing that there's a process by which we play the game to give ourselves a chance on a daily basis to have success, that they will do it. I don't think it's a hard sell, to be honest. I think they will be able to perform and do what they need to do in order to get their payday and next contract.

Q. You think you can get to these guys?
RICK RENTERIA: I think so.

Q. It's not an easy process when guys are looking forward to free agency.
RICK RENTERIA: I think there's perspective in these things. I don't think players want to be selfish. I think all players want to have and feel like they're committing and doing something that's going to help the whole. That's what we are trying to do.

Q. With Moncada being the one guy you got with Major League experience, how much are you expecting him to compete for a Major League job in Spring Training?
RICK RENTERIA: Once we get him and have our conversations and see him and get together as an organization, we'll see where we sit and where he fits in the process.

Q. And how much of the video you were talking about earlier, how much of that was Major League video versus Minor League video?
RICK RENTERIA: I saw quite a bit of Major League video. I saw some Minor League video, but mostly Major League video.

Q. The amount of strikeouts he had in that Major League time, what did you see to work with?
RICK RENTERIA: Great question. I was just talking about that. I think that's just experience. I think it's him -- for example. I'll give you an example. They were coming down, finishing him off underneath the hands down and in. He's a 21-year-old man who has not seen that type of bite coming from pitchers, and it's probably changing the lane in which he's looking for that particular type of slider where he's got to get it out and away.

He also has shown discipline. He walks. It's one of those things where I think time will tell us, but I think there's a look to him and there's an action to him that I believe will generate change of that particular outcome in the future.

Q. One thing that when you were with the Cubs seemed to be difficult for everybody is player development and winning games at the same time. When teams aren't necessarily ready to win and holding players back from things, do you envision that to being a part of what you might have to do here with the new job?
RICK RENTERIA: You guys have to remember, when I was there, there were guys that we had specific limitations to usage with, whether it was pitchers or position players. Right now, I think, as far as I know, we're dealing with a healthy, healthy crew of players.

Their limitations will simply be us putting them in the best chance to have success. You know, everyday players should play every day. But there might be chances where you might want to give somebody else to take advantage of a particular match up, but that individual needs to know that that's not something you're going to be doing with him every single time. They have to have the confidence and they do need experience in order to find out if they can do that.

Q. Tim Anderson had a nice debut this year and he's a free swinger. Would you like to see him cut back on the strikeouts?
RICK RENTERIA: I think as the season progressed, I think he started spitting out some very difficult pitches. I'm not afraid of his aggressiveness. I'd much rather have someone like that and be able to tone him down. I think experience -- he's a pretty bright kid. I think experience with him is going to end up creating a few more walks. I can't tell you in my mind's eye that I see him as a hundred-walk guy, not at all, but I do see him not being afraid. I see him with runners in scoring position and I see him playing the game and I see him doing things -- I know what the numbers say, but I know what my eyes are telling me, and it's pretty impactful.

Q. What did you see from Carlos the last six weeks of his season versus his struggles early on in the season?
RICK RENTERIA: This guy is a horse. What a tremendous arm with a lot of action. He's learning to command the zone. He's learning that more is not necessarily better. I think he's got a chance to be a tremendously successful, top-of-the-line starter. I think he started calming down a little bit. He's high energy. He's almost got a football mentality to him, which is good. I don't want him to lose that. I want him to direct it a certain way and make it more efficient.

Chicago White Sox