|Shortstop Edgar Renteria offers Tigers leadership, versatility|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 26 February 2008 01:39|
Instead, Edgar Renteria sits quietly at his locker, blending in along with a star-studded cast of newcomers, just one of the guys despite coming off a year in which he batted .332 for the Atlanta Braves.
Renteria, who also has two Gold Gloves and two World Series appearances, was traded to the Tigers for prospects Gorkys Hernandez and Jair Jurrjens in October.
As much as Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he was thrilled that Renteria could be one of the final pieces to the Tigers puzzle, Braves manager Bobby Cox said he would feel the loss even more acutely.
``Edgar was one of the best leaders I have been around in my entire career in baseball,'' Cox said. ``He is everything I could have asked for and he was such a great team leader. I have hardly ever seen a player around the clubhouse who had as much respect as Edgar Renteria and he will be missed.''
Renteria will be the Tigers shortstop as Carlos Guillen shifts to first base. Guillen has said that he doesn't mind the move.
The Tigers won 88 games last season, narrowly missing the playoffs, but will still have some new position players in the lineup.
Miguel Cabrera will handle third base and newcomer Jacque Jones is in left field.
The Tigers never lacked in leadership last season, but Renteria said he is ready to take whatever role Leyland gives him.
``This is a dream team,'' Renteria said. ``I liked Atlanta, but I feel good about this team. This team is what I am thinking about now and everybody thinks they can win.''
Renteria won his first World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and lost with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004 to the Boston Red Sox.
He left the Cardinals as a free agent and struggled through a difficult 2005 season in Boston where he said it wasn't a good fit. He was traded to the Braves following that season and excelled in the Atlanta infield.
Leyland said that Renteria's work ethic has been one of the things that have jumped out at him.
``He's a professional and he was with me on one of the biggest nights of my life,'' Leyland said about the night he and Renteria celebrated winning the 1997 World Series. ``We are thrilled to have him back. Carlos doesn't have a problem moving to first base, so it's working out really well.''
Renteria, who has been soft-spoken since arriving at Tiger Town last week, said he is just happy to be part of the puzzle.
``All I want to do is the best job I can for me and the Detroit Tigers,'' Renteria said. ``We have a real chance this year.''
The price to get him was steep. Hernandez was one of the top center field prospects in the minors and Jurrjens was one of the top pitching prospects in the organization. Jurrjens would have competed for the final spot in the Tigers rotation had they not traded for Dontrelle Willis in the Cabrera deal after the Renteria trade.
In Atlanta, the Braves needed some pitching for the back end of the rotation, but Yunel Escobar is one of the game's up-and-coming shortstops and Cox said Renteria was expendable for the young pitching he got in return.
``The Tigers are loaded with Renteria now,'' Cox said. ``They are getting a great player and a great person, one of the best I have ever had. That team is going to score a lot of runs and Renteria will be right in the middle of all of it, and I wish him the best.''
Notes: Ivan Rodriguez will bat eighth in the Tigers' lineup this season, Leyland said ... When the Tigers host Florida Southern on Tuesday, there will be a familiar name on the back of one of the Moccasins jerseys. Colin Kaline, grandson of Tigers' Hall of Famer Al Kaline, is the starting second baseman for FSC ... . Jeremy Bonderman will start against the Mets on Wednesday and will be followed the next four games by Nate Robertson, Justin Verlander, Willis and Kenny Rogers.