CHICAGO -- The words "bittersweet excitement" accurately described the feeling of Monday's news conference at U.S. Cellular Field to announce Rick Renteria as the 40th manager in White Sox history.
Bittersweet came from the departure of Robin Ventura, who managed the White Sox for the past five seasons but made the decision a little more than a month ago that his tenure would end when his contract expired on Sunday. Ventura exited with the class and high character that made him an attractive candidate to general manager Rick Hahn.
But the clear excitement throughout the ballpark came from the hire of Renteria, who managed the Cubs in 2014 and was the South Siders' bench coach this past season. The White Sox believed strongly enough in Renteria that they didn't truly open up the search process after Ventura's decision, figuring Renteria would have the edge over other strong candidates as part of their long compiled list.
"First, we were pretty confident, very confident, that as [many] qualified candidates as there may be out there in the game, we certainly weren't going to find anyone we'd feel any better about in terms of his leadership ability, his experience, his communication skills, work ethic open-mindedness and creativity," Hahn said. "There are some quality candidates out there in the game.
"Certainly some of the candidates might have matched him in that regard. What none of them were going to be able to bring, though, is that ability to seamlessly take over this position on day one to already have relationships with the players in that clubhouse with other staff members in the organization, not only in Chicago but throughout the Minor Leagues and to hit the ground running as a respected leader in this organization."
Johnny Evers is the only other person to manage both the Cubs and White Sox. Evers managed the White Sox for 123 games in 1924 and the Cubs for 249 games in 1913 and 1921.
Further coaching changes were not announced on Monday and are expected to be decided upon over the next month.
"He knows a lot about baseball," said White Sox first baseman José Abreu through interpreter Billy Russo of Renteria, who becomes the lone Latino manager in the Major Leagues. "He's passionate about baseball."
"Awesome. Very well respected. Just a nice guy. Genuine, competitive," White Sox pitcher Chris Sale said. "If you walked around this clubhouse, he would have the respect of every single person in here."
"He's a got a lot of qualities that Robin has. Maybe a little more vocal," White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton said. "He definitely will get his point across a little more, vocally. Not that he has more passion than Robin or anything like that, but he's a little more upbeat, a little more bouncy. He's kind of a bundle of baseball joy."
Ventura released a statement through the White Sox acknowledging that the team needed a new voice and a new direction, while expressing happiness for Renteria. The White Sox feel confident in Renteria's guidance, whether they go full rebuild or try to enhance their core and target contention.
"My personality is, a lot of you know me, I usually work in a very positive manner," Renteria said. "I'm still trying to be a very detailed oriented person and there are a lot of expectations that I hope to place before us.
"Not that they haven't been placed there, but hopefully I can just continue to follow through with what's been laid out, and as Rick said, hopefully transition easily with the guys that were here that kind of know what I'm about. Hopefully as we work together as a group, we'll find a way to motivate these guys and continue to encourage them and help them just become better ballplayers and continue to grow and have an identity for ourselves in terms of how we go about playing the game."