CHICAGO – Rick Renteria fostered a culture that allowed young players to develop into stars. And just like the last time, he lost his job after helping start a turnaround.
The Chicago White Sox and their manager agreed to split following a disappointing finish to a breakout season in which they made the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.
Chicago announced Monday that Renteria won't return after he led the White Sox to a 35-25 record in his pandemic-shortened fourth season. They ended a string of seven consecutive losing seasons with their first playoff appearance since 2008.
“This is not how we wanted this to end,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “We wanted it to end with Ricky leading us to championships. That was the intent from the start. Over time, through very candid and quite frankly personal conversations about where this organization is, what our time horizon is, what we need to do to win in October and get to that final, ultimate goal, it became evident that it was time to make a change.”
Don Cooper, who had been pitching coach since July 2002, also was let go. He had spent more than three decades with the organization.
Chicago lead the AL Central by three games before losing seven of its final eight and finishing tied for second with Cleveland at 35-25, one game behind Minnesota. Chicago got knocked out by Oakland in three games in their first-round series.
Renteria drew criticism for his lineups as well as his handling of pitchers, particularly down the stretch.
“Thank you to Ricky and Coop for everything they have done for White Sox organization," pitcher Dallas Keuchel tweeted. "I will continue their passion for winning and wish them all the best in their new beginnings!”
Hahn said Renteria's replacement probably will come from outside the White Sox. He said would like someone who has worked for a championship organization, though major league managing experience is not necessarily a requirement.
Renteria became the franchise’s 40th manager when he was promoted from bench coach to replace Robin Ventura in October 2016. He led the White Sox to a 236-309 record and helped establish a winning culture that fostered the development of the team’s young players.
Renteria also managed the crosstown Cubs in 2014 and drew praise for his work with young players. The North Siders planned to bring him back, only to let him go once Joe Maddon split with Tampa Bay.
Maddon made the playoffs in four of five years and managed the 2016 team to the franchise's first World Series title since 1908. He just completed his first season with the Los Angeles Angels.
Two World Series-winning managers who could be candidates are AJ Hinch and Alex Cora. Hinch led Houston to the title with Cora as his bench coach in 2017, and Cora won it all with Boston the following year.
Both were suspended by Major League Baseball for the 2020 season for their roles in the Astros' sign stealing scandal, and both lost their manager jobs. Their suspensions end on the day after the World Series.
One with a championship who won’t be in the running is Ozzie Guillen, who led the 2005 White Sox to the title. Hahn said chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told him Monday that Guillen will not be considered.
With a core of young players on team-friendly deals, starting with shortstop Tim Anderson, Chicago appears poised for possible long-term success. Veteran José Abreu put himself in contention for AL MVP by driving in 60 runs, and ace Lucas Giolito pitched his first no-hitter.
Renteria never had a contender until this year. With higher expectations, his in-game decisions came under closer scrutiny.
He brought in rookie Matt Foster with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Game 3 against Oakland, only to watch him walk in the tying and go-ahead runs.
Renteria also drew criticism late in the regular season, with the White Sox in a tailspin and a playoff spot secured, when he called on reliever Carlos Rodón in a tight spot at Cleveland.
Rodón had been sidelined since early August because of a sore shoulder and hadn’t pitched in relief since 2015. But he got the ball with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh inning. And it didn’t go well for him.
Rodon gave up a two-run single to César Hernández and two-run double by José Ramírez, sending the Indians to a 5-4 victory.
“This isn't about any of the decision-making in Game 3 of the wild-card series," Hahn said. "This isn't about anything that happened over the last couple of weeks after we clinched our position in the playoffs.”
Notes: Hahn said hard-throwing rookie Garrett Crochet has a flexor strain in his pitching forearm and the 21-year-old left-hander should be ready for spring training with no restrictions. The 11th overall pick in this year’s amateur draft, Crochet exited Game 3 against Oakland because of tightness. ... Second baseman Nick Madrigal (separated left shoulder) had surgery last week and might be limited when camp begins.
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