Ryne Sandberg

Ryne Sandberg prepares for his first full season as Phillies manager.

Associated Press photo by H. Rumph Jr.

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg says a lot of little things when he talks baseball.

"I like everybody out of the locker room for the pitch," he said. "I like everybody out for the national anthem. I think a lot of these things go a long way."

The Phillies named the 54-year-old Sandberg interim manager after firing Charlie Manuel on Aug. 16. In September, the team removed the interim label and gave Sandberg a three-year contract with an option for 2017.

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The Phillies finished 20-22 under Sandberg.

"Even the last week of the season, he had us getting out (before games) trying to get better," Phillies first baseman and outfielder Darin Ruf said. "That's (Sandberg's) attitude. It's incredible to play for."

This season Sandberg gets to run the team from the start. Phillies pitchers and catchers reported to spring training in Clearwater, Fla., last Thursday. The team's first full squad workout is Tuesday in Clearwater.

Sandberg made his Major League debut with the Phillies on Sept. 2, 1981. Philadelphia then traded Sandberg to the Chicago Cubs in the off-season. All he did there was become a Hall of Fame second baseman.

Sandberg discussed his approach to spring training and his outlook for the upcoming season during a January interview at the Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. Sandberg came to the Ocean County town as part of the Phillies' winter tour. The Lakewood BlueClaws are a Phillies single-A minor-league affiliate.

Q: What are your emotions like as the Phillies began to prepare for the season?

A: I'm excited. I really am. Having 42 games under my belt with the guys, some things were set in place. It set the tone of having a work ethic on the field and working at the game to get better.

Q: On his preparation for spring training:

A: I sat down with (my coaches) to put together a spring training schedule to get things laid out the way that I see it. It will be stressing fundamentals of baseball and perfecting them as best as we can on a daily basis. We're going to cover game situations, bunt plays and cutoff throws. We're going to improve pickoff moves of pitchers - all the basic fundamentals of the game. We'll continue it through the season - a shortened version of it - to keep guys sharp and ahead of the game.

Q: On what he expects of his players this spring training:

A: I like the guys to show up with a get-ready-to-work attitude every day. I have set times for guys to be there. I like them on the bench (during games). I like guys pulling for each other. I think that goes a long way.

Q: On his staff, including bench coach and former Phillies shortstop and manager Larry Bowa and pitching coach Bob McClure:

A: The biggest duties I had from the last pitch of the regular season was putting together a coaching staff. It took six to seven weeks. The coaches I brought in are guys that I know. They're guys that I trust. When I was drafted by the Phillies, I was watching (Bowa) when I was a minor leaguer thinking one day I could take his job. Then both of us were put in a trade and we played next to each other for four or five years with the Cubs. He is one of the best guys out there as far as a baseball mind. I like him as my right-hand man, in my ear, talking the game from the first inning on. I like Bob McClure's experience and his demeanor. He also likes to be on the field.

Q: On the age of the Phillies core players:

A: The age of the baseball player today is nothing like it was back when I played. Guys stay in shape 12 months a year. For me, (Jimmy Rollins, 35; Chase Utley, 35; Ryan Howard, 34; and Carlos Ruiz, 35) are quality players. It's a key to stay healthy and with that comes the occasional day off (for veterans). We can throw a bench guy out there - a Freddy Galvis, a Darin Ruff a (Kevin) Frandsen whoever it might be. We'll get them out there to stay sharp. We'll give a better player a blow every now and then and keep everybody healthy.

Q: On the Phillies lineup:

A: We have a mixture of young guys on the bench, and we have our mainstay veterans. I just ask each guy to do his thing and chip in every day. Somebody is going to get it done in a big way on a daily basis. For me, it's the making of balanced lineup. It's not all about one guy. Teams will have to pitch to a whole lineup. It's a key to stay healthy.

Q: On the Phillies young players:

A: You have to come into camp with an open mind. I like competition. For me, Galvis is slated as a defensive specialist and utility guy on the bench. Darin Ruf will play a little bit of first base, maybe some left field against a tough lefty. He's a right-handed bat that can maybe pop one late in the game. Cesar Hernandez is a guy in the mix, and they'll be some other guys. To get through a Major League season you're talking about needing 32 or 33 players. Everybody needs to play well no matter where they're at.

Q: On the chemistry in the clubhouse:

A: Chemistry is an important thing. For me, it's about guys showing up on time. It's players practicing with players on the field to help each other get better. It's about playing the game the right way. That's what I'm all about. If we prepare the way we're suppose to - and we will - that when the (wins) come and there's some chemistry there too.

Contact Michael McGarry:


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