More than 30 years after he made his major league debut with the Phillies, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is being called to the big leagues by the Phils once again and maybe this time a plan is in place to ensure he won’t go anywhere else like he did before.
The Phillies promoted the 10-time All-Star (during his playing days with the Cubs) to their coaching staff as third-base coach and infield instructor.
Sandberg, 53, is widely speculated to be the heir apparent to manager Charlie Manuel, whose contract expires at the end of next season. Sandberg had spent the past two seasons managing Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, to consecutive winning seasons.
“The franchise's decision-makers have an affinity for Sandberg,” reported Philly.com.
The Phils likely don’t want to risk losing Sandberg, again -- they traded him, along with Larry Bowa, to the Chicago Cubs for Ivan de Jesus prior to the 1982 season.
The move likely sets up a succession plan should Manuel, who turns 69 during the offseason, decide to retire. By promoting Sandberg to the majors (and giving him access to the fine amenities offered in the Bigs) it could make Sandberg think twice before looking for a major league managerial position with another franchise -- he interviewed for the Cardinals job last offseason.
The Phillies also promoted Steve Henderson to hitting coach and Rod Nichols to bullpen coach.
The moves were announced Thursday, a day after the Phillies fired first-base coach Sam Perlozzo, hitting coach Greg Gross and bench coach Pete Mackanin.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee will return. Mick Billmeyer goes from bullpen coach to catching coach. Juan Samuel, the former third-base coach, was offered the role of first-base coach and outfield and baserunning instructor.
The Phillies finished 81-81 this season after winning five straight NL East title and the 2008 World Series title.
As of now the team doesn’t have a bench coach in place for next season. Only the Tigers played this season without a bench coach.