PHILADELPHIA — Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. didn’t see a reason to wait until the offseason to explore other possibilities.
The Philadelphia Phillies removed the interim tag from Ryne Sandberg, signing him Sunday to manage the next three years.
“I think this is the right person to take us forward,” Amaro explained on the decision not to wait. “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.”
Sandberg had been serving as interim manager since the Phillies fired Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16. He entered the season as the Phillies’ third-base coach after managing the team’s Triple-A Lehigh Valley club for two years previously.
The move was not a surprise, but Sandberg expressed his relief that it finally became official.
“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.”
Before joining the Phillies organization, Sandberg managed in the Chicago Cubs’ minor-league system for four years. As a player, Sandberg spent 15 of 16 major-league seasons with the Cubs. He left the organization in 2010 shortly after Chicago named Mike Quade its manager to join the Phillies, the team that originally drafted him and ultimately traded him to the Cubs in 1982.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, Sandberg hopes to overcome the notion that Hall of Fame players can’t make good managers.
“I don’t know too many Hall of Famers who went to the minor leagues for six years to work their way up,” Sandberg said. “I thought it was necessary. It was also the only job that was offered at the time — that had something to do with it. As it turns out, it was the right path.”
The new skipper also believes he can succeed because he’s a great communicator.
“Communication is one of my strengths, which is ironic because as a player I think I wasn’t strong at all at communicating. I was focused on catching the ball and hitting it, and it kind of stopped there,” Sandberg said. “That was all part of going to the minor leagues and aging a little bit and maturing.
“And I think raising five kids in the house, all teenagers at once, I think the communication skills really developed then too, and it’s continued.”
Since Sandberg took over in mid-August, the Phillies have gone 18-16. They were 53-67 at the time he took over the ballclub.
“Based on the body of work that he did for us, we had to kind of take that into account,” Amaro said. “It was very, very clear to me right from the get-go the way he handled the transition, which was a very difficult period, having to take over for an icon of sorts in Phillies history in Charlie (Manuel).
“It was a very difficult circumstance, and he handled it well. He handled the players well and he handled the clubhouse well. I really liked the instincts and how he handled things.”
Sandberg signed a three-year contract, taking him through 2016 with a club option for 2017.