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December 10, 2019

Rick Renteria

San Diego, California

Q. We had a nice chat with your new catcher today?

Q. He's fired up?
RICK RENTERIA: Yes, he is. I think he's in -- listening to the conversations he's had with others, I think he's feeling good about where we are as an organization, the players that are here.

I think he feels, and we know and expect that he's going to bring a lot of help in terms of continuing to develop these guys. We had a really nice job done by McCann and those guys working together continuing to move us forward on the pitching side. And then his experience, this guy has been around. He's been fighting the postseason for a few years now.

He's been in the hunt. In his mind he comes in with the idea of being a part, contributing to a part of the success.

Q. He talked to all the pitchers?
RICK RENTERIA: Yeah. He asked for a lot of information once he was inked, so to speak, and he does his job. He's very prepared. He asks for a lot of different information. He likes metrics to see what he can do, and he's been around. I think him being able to reach out to the guys that he's going to be working alongside of is very, very important, obviously, and we're happy to have him.

Q. I remember talking to you at the 2017 Winter Meetings, and you had just seen Luis Robert, seen him play in the DSL, were very excited.

Q. Fast forward to now. He runs through Triple A, on the verge of the majors. What is your expectation for him in 2020?
RICK RENTERIA: Well, beyond the video that I watch, I would like to see him now this spring, because I think this is going to be a big spring for Lui. I think his skillset is obviously high level. He can do a lot of different things. I know that one of the biggest things that we were concerned about was keeping him on the field, getting the at-bats, playing in the field, doing baseball things.

I think he is improving. He's a young man that can make leaps and bounds. I think he is a young man that wants to prove to everybody what he's capable of doing at the Major Leagues, but we're looking at him in the spring and seeing where he is at.

Q. Is he good enough that he can be the biggest addition to your team regardless of how the off-season goes for you guys?
RICK RENTERIA: Certainly his skillset alone and the strides that he's made over the course of last year speak to that, but I think we continue to put ourselves in a position where we want to make sure these kids come in now, because our conversation is a little different. We left the season last year the last series of the year talking about this year, what we were going to expect and what we wanted to do and the things that we want to accomplish.

Obviously winning more games and being a part of a relevant season is important to us, so we're going to ask a lot of these guys. And it's time. We talked about it being time. Guys are going to have to step it up.

We've made tremendous strides, made growth, but we still have to continue to add pieces to put us over the top to give us an opportunity to be relevant.

Q. How much is balance important to you guys going forward as a legitimate contender in your lineup? Obviously defense and all that is important, but you have Grandal now to go along with it, and maybe you will get another left-handed bat. How important is that?
RICK RENTERIA: Well, it's hugely important. I think in order for us to be able to compete against all the clubs, specifically in the American League, you need a lineup that's ready to go 1-9. You make it more difficult for the starting pitcher, for anybody that's coming in in relief. I think the organization in general is working toward trying to solidify that lineup through and through. It's just the beginning of December, but for me I'm just optimistic that the organization is trying to do everything it can to put us in a much better place than we were previously.

Q. What's your take on Zack Collins? Do you believe he has a future as a catcher?
RICK RENTERIA: Yeah, I do. I was talking about him the other night when I got here. I think that he's shown strides. I think he's a young man that -- there is something in that stick. You can see it, even though when he came up the first time around he was 1 for 30 or whatever it was. But defensively he was showing tremendous improvement, both receiving and handling the pitchers.

So that was important for us. It's one of the things I think that was talked about. Then the second time around was a little bit more comfortable, was able to do some things with the bat. I think the stick is there. I think he has the ability to catch at the Major League level on a consistent basis.

I think it requires a tremendous amount of commitment, which I think he has, and I think he's taken hold of coming here and realized that there is more to the Major Leagues than I thought. He took it to heart, and I think he is going to continue to push himself to develop and be the player he can.

Q. You have two good veteran catchers in Grandal and McCann. Where do you envision finding time for Zack?
RICK RENTERIA: I think we go into camp and let it play itself out. I think we have to allow him still an opportunity to continue to improve and show us what he's about. I think those things have a way of taking care of themselves in terms of what the player does and how they talk to us through their actions.

Q. When the front office is involved in getting the players and trying to convince them to come to the south side, what is your message to guys of why this is a destination and why they should want to be part of your group?
RICK RENTERIA: I think it's simple. I think we turn to the players that we already have. I think we turn to the things that we have improved upon. There's no one, I don't think, that we've talked to, even toward the end of last year and even people that we've spoken to in terms of possibly coming here that don't see where we're at right now.

I think there is an optimism and an excitement about the south side right now that is legit. I don't think it's made up. It's not -- it's real. We have some players now that are starting to step it up, that their skillset is starting to show.

I think it does require a commitment by them to continue to push themselves to be excellent. You still want to have fun and enjoy the game, but we're not going to stop emphasizing that we have to be fundamentally sound at every level of the game and push ourselves to be the best that we can be.

You're not going to win with just one guy. It's not going to happen. You gotta play as a team. If the game has taught us anything, when clubs come together, all the different pieces that are put there and they work alongside of each other, in conjunction, with one goal in mind, which is having success, it works.

It's no different. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel. We're just trying to let it roll the way it's supposed to.

Q. If you get a veteran or two for your pitching rotation, is it essential that they have a skill or ability to held lead that young staff, or is that on you, the coaches and Coop to continue that mode and not have the player worry about it, just pitch?
RICK RENTERIA: Well, the one thing we don't want to do with anyone we bring on is to make them feel like they're the "it" piece that is going to change it all. They're a part of. They're a big piece, but a part of a group of people that are trying to do what's necessary in order to have success.

In terms of the players when they come in, they are who they are. We have to first allow them to be seen, and then we have to recognize what part of their personality comes into play, whether it's through speaking or action. That requires us keeping our mouths shut and our eyes open and watching them a little bit before you determine how they're going to be able to fit into that role.

Q. In your managerial career with the Cubs and the Sox, your main thing was teaching and being patient. How are you about expecting to win?
RICK RENTERIA: Everybody should expect to win. We're not taking it any differently now than we did in the past. I think you're always going to be teaching. That's a part of what we do, especially when you have young players.

But I do think as you continue to move forward and you start to add pieces that have been through the fire, so to speak, they themselves will stand out and put us in a position where the mindset and the mentality requires of every single one of us to be at our top level every single day.

You know, losing and winning, I mean, it's a fine line. It is about performance. It is about execution. It is about -- for us and everybody in the game of baseball and any sport -- it's about preparation and the information you get.

But you also have to trust and have a feel for what it is you're doing, and you gotta allow a player to learn what he is capable of doing and make adjustments as they go along the way. We're going to do what we have been trying to do, which is manage to win ball games, do the best we can with the players we get, and allow them to hopefully fit into a good slot to perform.

Q. Following on the question, there is that fine line between what have been able to allow guys to like stay in there, the starting pitchers. Get beat up and get those important innings in, as opposed to the expectations of winning these ball games now. How do you draw that line now of saying, Hey, you know what? It's the second inning. We're not going to let you go out there and lose the rest of this game?
RICK RENTERIA: The thing is we play in a 162-game schedule, so depending on who you have, where they're at, how they've been in terms of the pitching, how we have stretched them out, without allowing anybody to be potentially injured, those factors come into play.

But the one thing that you don't do is quit. I think you can overcome deficits, early deficits. A young man, a pitcher can have a rough first or second. The example, we have had Dylan Cease who can give up 4 or 5. Has in the past. Gets through it with 35, 40 pitches.

I've got somebody in the pen already. It's not uncommon for me to not allow that to continue to roll out of control, and then he settles down.

Q. But the reasons are different.
RICK RENTERIA: Absolutely, but I believe depending where you're at, depending on the approach, the tact that you're taking in terms of where you're at during the course of the season, what it is you're trying to do, earlier you're probably more apt to take somebody out sooner than you would later on, depending where you are, how you've used everyone.

But the ultimate goal is to be as efficient as possible, obviously make as good a decision as you can possibly make under the circumstances, and keep yourself in the hunt of a game.

Q. You seem excited to have expectations for next season.

Q. How excited have you been by the expectations of things happening this off-season, having the chance for the front office to add to what you've got?
RICK RENTERIA: Well, I think we have always tried to lay expectations -- someone was asking me how do you feel if you set them too high and all of a sudden things fall apart. People, have expectations. Have them on me. Have them on our team. Have them on everyone. The whole point of professional sports is to win. Everyone knows the business. I know the business. I know what's required of me. I know what's needed of me. I know where we're measured through success or failure. I get all that. That doesn't scare me.

What scares me is if people don't have expectations. That scares me, because then it means you're not striving to be better. We want to be better. We want our guys to improve and continue to go out there and allow their skills to perform the way they can. We want to keep them as focused and as relaxed as possible.

A lot of things that we're talking about right now I talk to the players about. It's no different. I'm not going to change. I'm going to try to do the best I can to manage to win ball games every single day and manage the personnel that I have and get the most out of them.

The one thing I cannot allow them to do is not believe in themselves. They have to have confidence that we believe in them. But trust me, if they're not performing and not executing, we have to try to find a way to make them do what they need to do. But if they don't, we're going to make sure they are aware that performance is the key for having success and keeping us around.

Q. What expectations do you have for Zach Murray this year, and what have you heard about how he is doing? My buddy saw him pitch the other day.
RICK RENTERIA: He's doing all right. He's healthy. I think the biggest thing that we were continuing to work on is strike, command of the zone. Obviously he has a powerful arm. We need a two-pitch mix, an effective two-pitch mix, and I think he's got a chance to be a part of something here as we move forward.

Everybody is looking forward to seeing him. I'm looking forward to seeing him in the spring and see where we're at. The depth that the organization has from within, in and of itself, is mind boggling. We're pretty happy with it, let alone being in the position where the guys can add pieces.

Q. I'm doing a profile on Nelson Cruz. I was hoping you can talk about what it was like to deal with him.
RICK RENTERIA: He was an animal. We walked him several times if I remember.

Q. Twice in one game.
RICK RENTERIA: Yeah. I think we were able to secure some outs. I think we had some guys that were able to execute, to work through that particular batter. I do think that tactically speaking, that's a question basically what it is, depends where we are in the game. How much his at-bat may impact the score at that particular moment. Are we up? Are we down?

I take into account a lot of things. The one thing I do know is he's a professional hitter, and he can hit the ball out of the ballpark anytime he wants.

Q. How impressive is that given he's 39 years old?
RICK RENTERIA: Extremely impressive. I think that speaks to his preparation, his knowledge, his understanding of what he is, all those things that have probably just -- he's reaching the pinnacle of who he is and he's taking advantage of every ounce of skill that he has to be who he is right now and still continue to perform.

Q. (No microphone.)

Q. And he's done that over the course of his career.

Q. Can that help your catching core to observe how he works in his tendencies?
RICK RENTERIA: Yeah, it works because even last year we did it with Zach, having him watch James and where they set up, how they received, how they surrounded the baseball. Was a thumb drop. All the different technical aspects of it. I think when someone does it extremely well, observing in and watching somebody manage, to receive a baseball plays a big role in being able to learn what it takes. I think he's an individual that is articulate enough that he can express and share with others how it is he needs to approach a particular pitch. You have to be extremely strong, by the way, to hold certain pitches, especially pitches with depth and power.

So obviously he's done a nice job of that and hopefully he can help us.

Q. Baseball rules don't allow you to talk about whether your team is interested in a player or not, but there are rumors out there about Nomar Mazara. Can you talk about his skillset as a player?
RICK RENTERIA: He's obviously a powerful man, 6'4", I think, 6'5". He looks like he's seven foot every time I see him in the box. Runs extremely well for a big guy. Can defend. Good arm. Brings a lot of qualities to the plate. Can pop one in the seats as quickly as anybody. I think he's done it against us a number of times, but he can play right field well.

Q. How does the three batter rule affect your strategy with the lineup?
RICK RENTERIA: We haven't talked about the definition of what the nuances of that rule will bring, but it does make you think about making sure that the pitchers that you do use are capable of getting lefties and righties. So now more than ever when you talk about match-ups, that might limit a little bit of the match-ups. So your strategy may need to change. You may have to walk a guy to get the right match-up.

Those are the things we're going to have to talk about and think about and strategize with guy's about.

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