Ryne Sandberg molding young Phillies hitters

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies
Sandberg is the assumed successor to Charlie Manuel. The Phillies skipper is in the final year of his contract.

When Domonic Brown talks about how he has possibly turned the corner from minor league prospect to potential starting outfielder for the Phillies, he mentions one name.

“Ryne Sandberg helped make such a difference,” Brown said. “He really gave me a boost when I was with Lehigh Valley last year. He’s very supportive and knows baseball.”

While coaching the Iron Pigs the last two seasons, Sandberg has been toasted by players and pundits.

“You have to respect the job Ryne Sandberg has done,” ESPN analyst John Kruk said.

Well, Sandberg respects the game of baseball. The Hall of Fame second baseman enjoyed a brilliant career between the lines. He paid his dues in the minors for the last six seasons before finally getting the call to the majors as Charlie Manuel’s right-hand man.

Sandberg will coach third base for the Phillies and assist Manuel, who will not have a bench coach.

“I love working with Charlie,” Sandberg said. “He’s one of the best baseball men you’ll ever meet.”

Sandberg appears to be in line to succeed the most successful manager in Phillies history. Manuel, who has the most wins in club history with 727, is in the last year of his deal. It’s uncertain what 2014 holds, but it appears that Sandberg may be in line for the gig next year.

“That’s not something I’m thinking about,” Sandberg said. “This is Charlie’s team. I’m just grateful to be where I am right now.”

Sandberg has the credentials. He went 155-132 with the Iron Pigs. He won Baseball America Manager of the Year honors in 2011.

“Ryne is a terrific manager,” Brown said. “He deserves all the credit for helping develop everyone at Lehigh Valley.”

Sandberg has fond memories managing the Iron Pigs and living in the Lehigh Valley.

“I had some great kids on the team those years,” Sandberg said. “I had a terrific time with them but I also loved the fans in the Lehigh Valley. They came out and supported the team. They know their baseball and it’s just a great atmosphere. Working on the Iron Pigs staff was great. I know I’m going to miss certain things about that this year.”

But Sandberg has made a big leap forward.

“I’m thrilled that I’m back [in the major leagues],” Sandberg said.

Sandberg has returned to the team that made the egregious error of trading him in 1982. It’s arguably in the top five worst deals in the history of baseball. Surely, the Phillies don’t want to make the same mistake twice, so the thought is Sandberg is the manager in waiting.

“I’m just excited to be back with the organization that drafted me [in 1978],” Sandberg said. “I go back 30 years with some of the guys in this organization, like Dallas Green, who I’ve known forever.”

After managing the Phillies to a 1980 World Series title, Green became general manager of the Cubs and snookered his former organization by trading for Sandberg.

“I left many years ago and I’m back,” Sandberg said. “I want to finally make a positive impact in Phillies history.”

Worst trades in Phillies history

1. Who says Pat Gillick never made a bad deal? Gillick should have lived up to his old nickname, ‘Stand Pat’ when he gave away serviceable starter Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez, who won the most games in the MLB last season, for Freddy Garcia, who won only one game for the Phillies.

2. Curt Schilling may not be a good businessman, but he was a heck of a pitcher. Schilling, who won World Series rings with the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, was dealt for Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa, Travis Lee and Vicente Padilla. The latter two are a pair of the most heartless players you’ll ever find, the opposite of Schilling.

3. The Phillies traded a future Hall of Famer when they swapped Ferguson Jenkins to the Cubs for Larry Jackson, Bob Buhl and Adolfo Phillips in 1966. The Phillies received little production and Chicago picked up an icon.

4. Less than 20 years after the Phillies made the monumentally bad deal with Chicago, they did it again. The Phillies traded Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus. The throw-in? Ryne Sandberg. How do you give away two Hall-of-Famers? Maybe that’s why the Phillies have only won a pair of World Series in 130 years.



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