Replacing a talented player is never easy, and Edgar Renteria certainly has his hands full in taking over for fan favorite Rafael Furcal. While everyone is ready to worry about how this team will replace Furcal offensively, perhaps an even bigger issue is how Renteria will fit in with second baseman Marcus Giles.
For the last four seasons, Giles and Furcal established themselves as one of the premier double play duos in the game. Their chemistry, cohesiveness, and timing became top notch. But with Furcal now in Vero Beach lacing up Dodger Blue, Giles has a new partner to break in this spring.
"He's a great veteran," Giles said of Renteria. "He's done a lot in this game. He's going to make my job easy. It's going to be a little bit different, but I think we're going to be just as strong. Like I said, we did lose a great leadoff hitter and a great shortstop in Fookie, but we also picked up a great shortstop in Renty. I think our up the middle with Druw (Andruw Jones), myself, and Renty, and B-Mac (Brian McCann) behind the plate. I think we're going to be fine up the middle."
But there will be a transition period. Giles and Furcal had almost become automatic in their performance. When two players who are crucial to the other play together for that long, there's a lot of chemistry there, and Giles admits even he was spoiled in having someone to work with that well for so long.
"Sometimes it may look easy on TV, but when you've got feeds as good as I was getting from Fookie, it does take a lot of pressure off your job and make it that much easier for you," Giles explained. "Renty's not going to be any different. I don't think it's going to take us long as all to get going."
Since both Giles and Renteria are veterans, and have excelled in the field in their career, not many are worried about the two working well together. But with Opening Day still five weeks away, you can expect both to work hard to try and develop that same chemistry Giles and Furcal had for so many years.
"Yeah we'll spend a little time in some early work," Giles admitted. "I think about 8:00 and it'll allow me to get to know his tendencies, get to know his arm angle, and picking up the ball out of his hand. It's going to be totally new, but as good as he is, I don't see it taking long."
Renteria had his worst defensive season of his career in 2005, committing 30 errors with the Red Sox. But the 30-year-old has always been a fine defensive player, so most are attributing his troubles to the hard surface at Fenway Park and his genuine unhappiness of being in the American League. Braves' Manager Bobby Cox is not worried one bit about Renteria's glove work at shortstop.
"I know Edgar and how he feeds it (to the second baseman), and it's as good as it gets," Cox said. "They won't have any problems."
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giles feels Renteria a good fit
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