8/28 Ryno’s coming back to Wrigley
On Friday, Ryne Sandberg returns to Wrigley Field as interim manager of the Phillies. The Hall of Fame second baseman played 15 seasons with the Cubs, and made it no secret that he wanted to manage the team. What kind of reception does Cubs manager Dale Sveum feel Sandberg will get?
“I’m sure he’ll get a standing ovation,” Sveum said. “This guy is in the Hall of Fame. He’s arguably the best second baseman to play the game and he did it all in Chicago. It’ll be a nice moment for him to come back, after getting his first job, and a couple weeks after he gets it, he comes to Chicago for the first time.”
Sveum spent most of his playing career with the Brewers, and thought about possibly managing there but was passed over as well. He also managed in the Minor Leagues, but Sveum wasn’t a Hall of Fame player.
“I only did it in Double-A for three years, which is a perfect level to manage at,” Sveum said. “Guys are past the core development, so you have decent players, and you’re dealing more with men than kids, and they’re hungry to get to the big leagues and most people in Double-A have a shot at a cup of coffee in the big leagues. That’s what you try to do as a Minor League manager is get every player a cup of coffee.”
So Sveum, like Sandberg, rode the buses and caught the early flights and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the clubhouse.
“It’s impressive that somebody who had those credentials [like Sandberg] would want to stay in the game and go back to the Minor Leagues and teach and progress and get accustomed to managing, especially to the National League part of managing, and obviously get an opportunity to do it,” Sveum said.
A lot of players say they want to manage or coach, but once they get into player development, they realize how much of a commitment it is.
“Some guys have had great careers but they find out [what it takes], it turns into a 24/7 job, it’s not for everybody,” Sveum said.
“You’re in your own little world as a player,” he said. “At the end [of his playing career], I started asking a lot of questions of Jim Leyland and really paying attention to the game itself. When you’re a player, you worry about your four at-bats and not making a fool out of yourself.”
Did it take long for Sveum to get over not getting the Brewers’ job?
“I don’t think it’s tough to get over,” Sveum said. “It’s just part of the game, and you understand the business part and how lucky it is to get one of these jobs. There’s luck involved. There’s a circulation of managers being let go. There’s only 30 of these jobs and for newcomers to get one, it’s hard to do.
“It’s not easy to put $100 to $200 million payrolls together and hand them to somebody who’s never done it before,” he said. “You keep plugging along and doing your thing, and if it happens, it happens.”
— Carrie Muskat