When the Chicago Cubs hired Rick Renteria as their new manager on Nov. 6, we weren't aware of the unusual and somewhat inconvenient process his suitors had to go through just to arrange and carry out their interviews.
As MLB.com's Corey Brock reported on Saturday, it turns out the 51-year-old former major leaguer was basically confined to his home in Temecula, California for six weeks following hip replacement surgery on Oct. 4. Renteria knew throughout the season that surgery would likely be required as his discomfort continued to build. He figured taking care of it first thing in the offseason would be the best course of action, since he could lay low at home while recovering.
What he didn't anticipate, however, was the overwhelming interest he'd draw as a managerial candidate and how his condition could effect his chances.
"The funny thing is, I didn't actually know," Renteria said. "I got a call the day I was going into surgery. I spoke with [Padres general manager Josh Byrnes] and he said the Cubs were interested in interviewing me for the position.
"I then talked to Jed and I told him I couldn't travel for six weeks. And he said maybe they could come out to see me."
Fortunately for Renteria, that's exactly what happened. The Cubs contingent led by Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer made the trek to Temecula just 10 days after his surgery to begin the interview process. Representatives from the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners would also travel to his home in the weeks that followed, but ultimately went in different directions leaving the Cubs as the final vacancy to be filled.
Despite Renteria's physical limitations at the time, Chicago left their initial six-hour interview impressed with his approach to baseball, his ideas, and perhaps even his determination to get around the house despite being so early in his recovery.
"I was pretty limited, but I was able to walk with a walker," Renteria said. "I've been doing my exercises twice a day to get the muscles reacclimated to the movement. I live in the two-story house, so I've had to use the handrail and go one step at a time.
"I think they [doctors] have a saying ... good foot up, bad foot down."
Renteria undoubtedly put his best foot forward, as Corey Brock said it, in the interview process. From a fashion standpoint, however, he didn't have much time to prepare and wasn't really in condition to dress up anyway.
"At that point, I'm just wearing loose sweats," Renteria said. "They started asking me different questions: How do you deal with players? How I would handle different situations."
The time passed quickly, so much so that the trio essentially forgot about lunch. That's when Renteria's wife, Ilene, intervened.
"She suggested that we do something [for lunch], so I said that we should get something from one of the local places," Renteria said. "She decided to go to Panera."
Needless to say, you don't hear about many job interviews playing out the way this one did. But hey, it worked for Renteria. Now the Cubs will hope it works for them, too, and that Renteria and their developing core of young talent meshes well together in the years to come.
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