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New manager Rick Renteria has high expectations for Cubs

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He says this team has talent. He says he expects to start to compete right away and doesn’t acknowledge a years-long timeline for competing. He says you’ll rarely see him without a smile, “even in difficult times.”

Does Rick Renteria have any idea what he’s walking into as the new manager of these Chicago Cubs? Can the former San Diego Padres bench coach possibly be prepared for what lies ahead?

“I think I have to be,” Renteria said during his first session with Chicago media as Cubs manager Thursday.

But, he adds, “My personality’s not going to change. My approach to players is not going to change.”

It’s about nurturing the confidence in players, stressing awareness and basics, eliminating mistakes and, apparently, believing against all odds and evidence that a stripped down roster coming off the worst three-year stretch in franchise history has a chance to do more than develop young players in the short term.

“Whether there’s an assumption our team won’t be able to play at a high level, I don’t make that assumption,” he said. “It might seem naïve, but I still believe any team that goes in and plays between the lines has a chance to win every single day. The one thing we have to do with the club, we have is lay expectations before them. The expectation is we’re going to compete and win.”

Renteria, 51, is the Cubs’ fourth manager in five years, signed to a three-year contract that includes two additional club-option years.

He replaces Dale Sveum, who was fired at the end of his second season with the club.

Renteria, who has spent the past six seasons on Padres manager Bud Black’s coaching staff, has no big-league managerial experience. He managed eight years in the minor leagues, four each with the Marlins’ and Padres’ organizations, with Josh Beckett and Chase Headley among his success stories.

“He deserves to be a big-league manager. At the same time I’m sad because we lose him and everything he means to us in this clubhouse,” Padres outfielder Will Venable said. “There’s a way to play this game, and I believe that Ricky knows that way as well as anybody. That means running hard. That means doing what you’re supposed to do before the ball gets there. Just being aware of the situation around you. No one did a better job of getting us prepared for that.

“But also, if it didn’t happen, it’s finding a reason it didn’t happen and stressing that adjustments need to be made. Whether it’s a small thing or a big thing, Ricky made sure he would address it right away, and in a way everybody respected. Sometimes that would mean it’s time to raise your voice, and being tough with you. But in a way that was for the betterment of the team and for the betterment of the individual.”

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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