Quiet Renteria reports to Sox camp
After getting lost, new shortstop arrives in Fort Myers
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There he was, a beaten man for one of the rare times in his distinguished career. Edgar Renteria had just hit a harmless tapper to Keith Foulke, and all he could do was take a fruitless run to first base, take a right turn and make way for the Red Sox to storm the Busch Stadium sod as World Series champions.
Some seven years after Renteria won a World Series for the Marlins with a single up the middle in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Indians, he again ended a World Series, this time in a far less desirable fashion.
Who could have guessed what road free agent-to-be Renteria would wind up on after making the out New England had only waited 86 years for. Saturday, that road was one Renteria was unfamiliar with.
All he wanted to do was find his new teammates, the ones who left him so deflated four months ago, and Renteria only wished he had Mapquest connected to his car.
"I got [lost] bad, because I don't know anything down here," said Renteria. "It's my first time here. I got lost for like 20 minutes. But that's alright."
Alright indeed. He's here now, and that's all that matters for the Red Sox. They can't ever imagine Renteria needing a compass in the field or at the plate, where he is one of the true rocks in the game.
The '97 and '04 World Series cappers were the two extremes of his career. In between, he's been the epitome of a steadying force, not to mention a four-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover.
"I just think that it's nice that we know who's going to be our shortstop," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "He's going to be out there and he's going to play the game right. Hopefully, he'll come to Boston and feel comfortable, and get in our lineup, and maybe even put up better numbers."
Not that Renteria will be paying much attention to the stat sheet. He is disinterested in glamour. He just likes to put his uniform on and grind it out for nine innings. You'll never find him on the all-quotable team, and that's exactly how Renteria wants it.
"Everything I've got, I'm going to bring to the field every day," Renteria said. "I'm a quiet guy. I don't like to talk much. I get to my position and let everybody do what they have to do. I try and do my job and not say anything. I'm a team player, I like to have fun with the guys. On the field, you do what you have to do. I like to play every day. If we win, we're doing a great job."
He is used to winning. After that early championship with the Marlins -- Renteria was 22 at the time -- he got to play in the postseason for four of his six years in St. Louis.
Renteria doesn't have a nickname, but if he did, it would probably be "Smooth."
"He's going to be a tremendous asset to the club," said Red Sox setup man Mike Timlin, who teamed with Renteria on the Cardinals for two years. "He's got power, but he's still a really good contact hitter. He knows how to handle the bat."
As for the sour ending to last season, Renteria didn't bring any lingering bitterness with him to Fort Myers.
"I'm not angry, because that's the game," he said. "Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Last year we lost. Now I'm with the champions of the world, and we'll try to win again."
He even looks forward to kidding around with Foulke, who closed out all four games of the 2004 World Series.
"First of all, I'll tell him congratulations for last year," said Renteria. "Now he's with me. We play on the same team. He's not going to throw me out again."
Maybe in part because Renteria already has his own World Series ring, he doesn't think that watching the Red Sox get there's will be a painful experience. In fact, Renteria plans on having a little fun with it.
"I'm going to go through the line and say, 'Where's my ring?'" Renteria quipped.
One question that has yet to be answered is where Renteria will hit in Francona's batting order. He could hit second, or hit behind the thundering bats of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz.
Francona wants to talk to Renteria about it before making a decision, and the manager is bound to enjoy what he hears during that conversation.
"We didn't talk yet, but I'm going to tell him that wherever he needs me, I'll be there. I don't care where he puts me," Renteria said. "It doesn't matter with me. Wherever they need me, I'll be ready to do it."
As he exited his informal press conference, Renteria gave a friendly look at the reporters surrounding him and said, "Sorry for my English."
In truth, his English was fine, and the Red Sox are all but certain they'll be more than fine at shortstop for the next four years.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.