Renteria makes the most of his prospects

Rick Renteria is highly regarded as a manager in the San Diego Padres' system. His reward came this past week, named the Triple-A manager in Portland. But, this past season with the Lake Elsinore Storm he worked with the speed of Yordany Ramirez, the power of Nic Crosta, the defense of Chase Headley and Skip Adams and the general small ball on a team that wasn't particularly quick.

The Lake Elsinore team in 2006 had the appearance of being a slow team and that turned to be relatively true as you placed seventh in the ten-team California League in steals. How does the gameplan change for you as a manager without much speed in the lineup?

Rick Renteria: You just have to be wise in how you use what you have. Yordany Ramirez runs very well. (Josh) Howard has some speed. Tim Turner has some speed. Tim and Josh are guys that platoon so when they are in there you still have to use it when the time is right and take advantage of what they are able to do.

We were not burners but you can still run the bases aggressively. You can still run the bases in a way that will let you take advantage of mistakes that allows you to advance and not just base to base. I think as long as we made sure we were doing some things that allow us to run the bases aggressively and wisely we can still do some things but obviously what you have will revolve around what you do in the game.

When presented with a team such as the one you had, does it mean that there will be more of an emphasis on small ball and moving runners over?

Rick Renteria: I think that the game will tell us. If there is a situation where we have to bunt someone over and put them in scoring position we will deal with that with what my gut is telling me, how the game is going, what the matchups are as far as what hitter is up and who is pitching. But I think that the idea of "small ball" is just part of the game. Being able to get guys over in bunting situations. If you had guys that could run would you steal as opposed to bunting them over in certain situations? I don't know. I think everyone is different in their belief and how they run their game. I think that depending on the situation and what are feelings are will determine how we proceed.

One thing is for sure, fundamentally, we have to be sound, regardless of whether we do or don't have speed. We have to execute the bunts. We have to take good aggressive secondary at bats, first to third, you have to take advantage of balls in the dirt, and all those things that are a part of the game as we continue to touch on as the season progresses and those guys are able to execute to put us in scoring position and score us some runs.

Talk about the infield defense you had this season compared to last when Juan Ciriaco and Brett Bonvechio led their respective positions in errors.

Rick Renteria: Ciriaco at short last year – a lot of his errors were throwing errors last year. He got to a lot of balls and experience will hopefully take care of the desire to complete plays that maybe you hold onto the ball as opposed to throwing. That is experience.

Mistakes aren't a loss unless you don't learn from them. In development you allow for a certain level for error because it is a building block. You have to address it when it happens so they know how to react the next time. And that is experience.

Skip (Adams) did a very nice job and (Chase) Headley did a nice job. Both played really well defensively. I think a lot of it has to do with focusing and intensity. Your attention is elevated and we have all enjoyed what they have been doing.

The whole key is going to be long-term consistency. They are going to have some good ones and bad ones but hopefully more good ones than bad. They work really hard; they prepare and get their minds in the right frame and concentrate on what is in front of them instead of being scattered and thinking about too much. Players have a tendency to think about a whole lot of things. When you have them able to think about what is at hand, understand the situation, and focus, that is an advantage.

We are really happy with how they have gone about their job. They are human so they will make mistakes but they go about it the right way.

Talk about the changes that have been made with Nic Crosta's swing. He was mashing the ball in Fort Wayne but has been working hard here to correct some of the holes in his swing that will affect him the higher he goes.

Rick Renteria: His approach in terms of his balance and what not always seems like it's out of kilter. He has a very keen ability to put the bat on the ball. His balance and his approach is something he's working on right now to see if he can solidify it a little better and not make it as violent and erratic. See if that will allow him to stay truer to the ball and take a better path to the baseball. He uppercuts quite a bit, so we were trying to level off his path to the ball. He drives the ball and when he puts the ball in the air, he's got some juice. So if he can square that up a little bit, I think he'll be fine. He's definitely got something there to work with.


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