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Cubs manager Rick Renteria on powerful NL Central: “I don’t see this as a daunting task”
MESA, Ariz. — In the two years of expanded playoff fields, the Cubs’ division is the only one to produce three playoff teams in one year.
And coming off that season, a fourth team in the National League Central has a former MVP coming back for a full season and added a former 15-game-winning starting pitcher with World Series experience over the winter.
Clearly, none of those four teams is the Cubs.
But first-year Cubs manager Rick Renteria doesn’t look at the St. Louis-Cincinnati-Pittsburgh-Milwaukee gantlet as a “daunting task.”
“I look at it as a very solid division, obviously, just by default, with what its done over the past couple of years,” he said. “But I don’t look at it from the past. I’m looking at it as what can we do, and how can we chance how we approach playing each game against each particular club and what can we do to make ourselves a little bit more effective against the particular clubs.
“Those are just the players on that particular team that impact, potentially, the outcome.”
Players like Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto – three of the last four NL MVPs. Players like former Cub starter Matt Garza, signed over the winter by the Brewers; and St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, who led the NL with 19 wins and finished second in the Cy Young voting last year.
“I’m more concerned about how we’re going to approach them individually and try to have some success against them,” Renteria said. “But I don’t see this as a daunting task. They’re another team.”
The Cubs are 46 games under .500 against those four other teams over the last two years, and they haven’t had a winning record against any of them since 2010.
Renteria acknowledges the NL Central looks “similar” to the vaunted American League East.
“But you’ve had a lot of clubs that have tremendously gifted players and not put it together,” he said. “So my thing is, quite frankly, we have a body of players that we’re trying to help form into a team, and that if we can do certain things and take certain actions that we have just as good a chance of competing in our division as some of those teams in the [AL] East have done in the past.”