CHICAGO — First-time manager Rick Renteria is focused on the future of the Chicago Cubs, rather than their past failures.
Renteria preached accountability Thursday when he was introduced via teleconference as the franchise’s 53rd manager. He takes on a challenging job that goes beyond merely trying to bring a winning team to Wrigley Field.
The development of young ballplayers has been labeled as one of his strengths. And with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo needing help, the former San Diego Padres bench coach has got lots of work ahead of him with a team that finished 66-96.
“My personality doesn’t allow for being counted out,” Renteria said. “I think what we’re trying to do between the lines will speak for itself. In the end, we’re all judged in one fashion or another, but I don’t preoccupy myself too much about what I think’s going to happen. I preoccupy myself with what I want to do.”
First thing he needs to do: Get healthy. Renteria will be introduced at Wrigley at a later date as he is recuperating in San Diego following hip surgery in October.
The 51-year-old Renteria got a three-year contract with club options for 2017 and 2018. He is another unproven hire by team president Theo Epstein and the Cubs after the struggling organization initially expressed interest in New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Girardi, a Peoria, Ill., native and Northwestern product who once played for the Cubs, signed a four-year contract worth up to $20 million to stay with New York.
“Rick’s reputation is impeccable,” Epstein said. “He stood out throughout the process to lead the Chicago Cubs into our next chapter.”
“You can’t find anybody in this game to say a bad or neutral word about Rick Renteria,” he said.