Sunday, September 22, 2013

Phillies remove interim tag, officially name Sandberg manager

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
@Philabaseball

The Phillies removed the interim label from manager Ryne Sandberg on Sunday, inking the Hall of Famer to a three-year deal with a club option for 2017.

"We feel that Ryne has the qualities and leadership skills that are essential to move our club and our organization forward," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. "Ryne's six years as a minor league manager, Hall of Fame credentials and work ethic warrant this opportunity."

Sandberg becomes just the second Hall of Famer to ever become a full-time manager after being enshrined in Cooperstown. Ted Williams is the other, having managed the Washington Senators in 1969.

The Phillies have gone 18-16 under Sandberg since the firing of Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16.  Prior to his taking over the club had dropped 19 of 22 and fell out of playoff contention. 

“When we let the players know (Sandberg was named permanent manager), the energy in the room was extraordinary and I’m excited about it,” said Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “He worked his way through the minor leagues, has unbelievable Hall of Fame credentials and more importantly he’s a very good baseball man. He’ll carry us forward and do what’s necessary to put another ring on our finger.

“It was clear to me from the get-go how he handled the transition of taking over for an icon. … I like how he handled things. This is the right person to take us forward.”

Sandberg, 53, began his career with the Phillies, getting one hit in six at-bats in 1981. He then was traded to the Chicago Cubs along with shortstop Larry Bowa for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. He eventually went on to make 10 All-Star appearances and was named 1984 NL MVP.

Sandberg's managerial career began in the Cubs' minor-league system where he was named Pacific League Manager of the Year in 2010. He returned to the Phillies' organization last year as manager of Triple-A Lehigh Valley where he won Baseball America Manager of the Year honors.

“I think this is the right person to take us forward,” Amaro said. “I know his philosophy on the importance of cohesiveness throughout the organization, and that’s exactly what we’re looking for. I know he understands the importance of player development and scouting, he’s got an idea and a vision of what’s necessary to move this organization forward.”

Originally, Amaro hinted he was going to see how the team responded to Sandberg over the remainder of the season - 42 games between Manuel's firing and the end of the season - before moving forward with any decision. Turns out, Amaro already has his answer.

“I think there’s been a very large weight lifted off of me,” Sandberg said. “I’m still focused on the last eight games — still focused on today’s game to tell you the truth — but I’m looking forward to not only the eight games left but to 2014 and getting the wheels turning in that direction.”

- Patrick Gordon is managing editor of the Philadelphia Baseball Review.  Follow him on Twitter @Philabaseball

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