Rick Renteria eyes playoffs: 'If anybody is afraid of setting expectations, this is not a place to be'

Vinnie Duber

Rick Renteria has expectations of playing in October. And he wants everyone involved with the White Sox to feel the same way.

Those playoff expectations are realistic ones after the work Rick Hahn's front office has done this winter, joining impact veterans like Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel and Edwin Encarnacion with a burgeoning young core that broke out in impressive fashion in 2019.

Of course, the White Sox still lost 89 games last season, despite breakout campaigns from Lucas Giolito, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson and Eloy Jimenez. So there's plenty that has to happen before the South Side can start making October plans for the first time in more than a decade.

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But the skipper is - as he's been happy to share since the waning days of the 2019 season - making no bones about what he thinks his players and White Sox fans should be ready to accomplish in 2020.

"If you just simply look at us on paper, we are a much improved club," Renteria said Wednesday. "We still have to do it and get it done. There's no magic potion other than guys executing for me. My job is to make sure that they stay as confident as possible, put them in the best place to have success.

"My expectations haven't changed. We want to fight for the postseason. We either want to win a division, we want to be a wild card, whatever the case might be. We want to be in a place where we are winning more ballgames and putting ourselves in a relevant position to win.

"I'll repeat this: If anybody is afraid of setting expectations, this is not a place to be. It's about winning, ultimately, and I think that the organization has done a great job to put us on better footing to be able to give us a chance to do that."

It might, to some, sound like the typical "hope springs eternal" message that skippers doll out in hefty helpings at this time of year, and certainly there are reasons to be skeptical about the White Sox leaping from 89 losses to playoff status in one season. The starting rotation is improved but still faces mysteries with its younger members. Some of the team's best hitters in 2019 benefited from good fortune and need to prove they can still produce at a high level if that fortune doesn't return in 2020. There are still players who have limited or no major league experience and could experience growing pains.

But with Grandal, Keuchel and Encarnacion - among other veteran additions - bringing winning experience along with their track records of production to an extremely talented core featuring Giolito, Moncada, Anderson, Jimenez, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Dylan Cease and eventually Nick Madrigal, it's not difficult to see how this team could explode to the top of the AL Central to complete their transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

So for Renteria to have such high hopes makes plenty of sense - even if it's not at all unexpected.

"At the end of the day, my story hasn't changed with the players," he said. "For three years, we talked about high expectations and winning, and they have been grinding and chipping away at that mentality and trying to understand it and trying to perform.

"Now you have a compilation of younger players who have been developing and learning what it's like to be at the major league level and now they are going to have some players, some teammates who are going to help them along the way to help us through the performances, hopefully win more ballgames and we do what we do.

"Everyone in major sports wants to win and that's what we want to do. Our expectation is to win."

That's music to the ears of White Sox fans who have watched their team lose a combined 284 games in Renteria's first three seasons as the South Side skipper. Certainly the front office has done their part in bolstering this roster, not just this winter but as part of the long-running rebuilding effort. Now it's up to Renteria and the players to reach the postseason.

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Rick Renteria eyes playoffs: 'If anybody is afraid of setting expectations, this is not a place to be' originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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