PHILADELPHIA - Ryne Sandberg didn't mince words in his first news conference as Phillies manager.
Sandberg described the Phillies' recent play as "lackadaisical."
"There have been signs of lackadaisical play," Sandberg said. "And getting the players re-interested in these games - remind them that these are meaningful games - I think will be part of the order."
The Phillies fired Charlie Manuel, the winningest manager in franchise history, and hired Sandberg on an interim basis Friday afternoon before the Phillies played the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Sandberg, 53, is a Hall of Fame player and managed the Phillies' triple-AAA team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, from 2011-12.
Sandberg had coached third base for Philadelphia this season. He learned he would be the new Phillies manager in a phone call from general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. on Thursday afternoon.
The Phillies began Friday 53-67, tied for the third-worst record in the National League. Philadelphia was 5-19 since the All Star break.
"These guys are professional players, they're getting paid well," Sandberg said. "Sometimes players have to dig deeper, play with pride, play with heart and for the name on the front of the uniform."
Sandberg is one of the best second baseman in baseball history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. He spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs but made his major-league debut with the Phillies in 1981. He was then traded to Chicago in one of the most lopsided deals in Phillies history. Philadelphia traded Sandberg and shortstop Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus in 1982. DeJesus never hit higher than .257 in three seasons with Philadelphia.
The Phillies made Sandberg the third base coach at the start of this season. Speculation immediately began that he was the manager-in-waiting. On Friday, though, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. left open the possibility that the Phillies would interview other managerial candidates after the season.
"I think (Sandberg) has the qualities to be a quality major-league manager, but time will tell how he handles this situation," Amaro said. "We are looking for someone who understands what we want to do in the front office, as well as on the field. The manager has to fit the club and the club has to fit the manager."
The Phillies made two other moves with their coaching staff Friday. Juan Samuel, who had coached first base, replaced Sandberg at third. Assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner is the new first base coach.
"I'm looking forward to playing for Ryno," first baseman Michael Young said. "I've worked with him a lot since spring training. He's going to be a great manager. Hoping to get some momentum going for him and get him some wins."
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