Results tagged ‘ Ryne Sandberg ’

The Phillies Shift

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate today and the Phillies stepped to the right side of the infield.

They employed a defensive shift against Freeman, which has been a rarity for the Phillies in the past. According to Baseball Info Solutions, the Phillies shifted just 45 times last season, which ranked 29th in baseball. More and more teams recognize the value of a defensive shift, which is why Ryne Sandberg said the Phillies will shift more in 2014.

“We’re going to play with it a little bit,” he said after today’s 2-2 tie with the Braves at Bright House Field. “Once we get our charts and everything, make a decision; sometimes it may be dependent on the game.”

Sandberg said the Phillies discussed using the shift more during the offseason. The Phillies will use video and spray charts on hitters, which show where they hit the ball against right-handed and left-handed pitchers. They also have charts on their own pitchers, which will tell them where hitters seem to hit the ball when they are on the mound.

“The option will also be provided to the starting pitcher, that type of a situation, according to how they’re going to pitch,” Sandberg said. “So it will be coordinated. … We’ll be smart with it and do what makes sense. It’s something that’s grown and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that’s something to think about and apply.”

Early Losses Bother Sandberg

Ryne SandbergThe Phillies dropped to 1-6 in Grapefruit League play with tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays.

Do the early losses bother Ryne Sandberg? It is just one week of Spring Training, after all.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t like losses. You like to win games. It seems like in some of these games it’s been a one-inning type of thing. A crooked number in one inning. But our offense hasn’t come alive to overcome a crooked number by the other team. Six hits tonight, the two-run homer by (Marlon) Byrd and then we’re quiet after the third inning. So a lot of zeroes up there on the offensive side.”

The Phillies finished the night hitting just .194, which is the worst mark in baseball this spring.

But it is just one week of games. Countless players have had poor springs and played well during the regular season, so not much can be read into it.

“It seems to me like we get the bases loaded every game and don’t get anything out of it,” Sandberg said. “We get two guys on and we don’t get anything out of it. It’s about getting a big hit in an early Spring Training game like this. It seems like we haven’t had too much offense later in the games. It’s something we have to work on. With more at-bats usually the guys start swinging the bat better.”

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Maikel Franco has impressed the Phillies early in camp.

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Erik Kratz talks about going on the Phillies cruise after the Phillies traded him, and Larry Andersen and Scott Franzke go Western with bolo ties.

Positive or Negative, Pap Speaks

papelbon pressJonathan Papelbon spoke with reporters this afternoon at Bright House Field, and he had plenty to say about leadership, positivity, negativity and his performance on the field.

Much of the conversation centered on his attitude and influence in the clubhouse. It is no secret he wasn’t a happy man last season (examples HERE and HERE). He also didn’t dominate the ninth inning like he had in the past. A combination of those things are why the Phillies actively tried to trade him, not only before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but during the offseason. The Phillies simply felt he no longer fit into their clubhouse. But finding no takers for the $50 million closer, Papelbon returned to camp saying he plans to be a more positive influence in 2014.

Of course, he said similar things in Spring Training 2013, so we will see.

Here are some highlights from his meeting with reporters:

Q: Can you talk about the start of another spring training? Is your attitude different?
A: This year, I’m definitely trying to be a lot more of a positive influence and be more upbeat. It starts from Ryno. It starts from our manager in encouraging us to stay positive and be upbeat even though the last two seasons didn’t go as expected for myself and the rest of the guys in that clubhouse. This spring training is a big, big difference, just in the first few days. There is a lot more upbeat positivity. It’s night and day, it really is.

Q: Is it a reflection of Ryne Sandberg?
A: Every morning we have a meeting and Ryno. He talks about energy and spark. Bringing it every day. Last year and the year previous, we didn’t have that. We were losing games and I feel like we let losing get to the best of us. I let it get to me just as much as anybody. That’s a tough thing to do. As an athlete, we come out here and prepare and put so much hard work into it. When it doesn’t pay off, it’s a hard thing to deal with.

Q: Were you not a positive influence last year?
A: I’m just speaking for myself and nobody else. At times, when you lose 12 games in a row and you’re in Detroit and you say you didn’t come here for this, that gets spinned in a couple of directions. For me, I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win. I came here to win a world championship. I don’t take losing very well. The one thing I can say that does upset me is a lot of you guys here — not pointing anyone out — took that as I’m a bad teammate, which is definitely not true. I’d break my back for my teammates. I’d do anything. They’re my brothers. I’m with them more than my family. If you could ask all 25 guys in there, I live and die for my teammates.

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Asche Favorite for Opening Day Job

Cody AscheEverybody knew for weeks Ryne Sandberg eventually would be named Phillies manager.

Cody Asche is a similar favorite to be the team’s Opening Day third baseman in 2014.

“The leader, for me,” Sandberg said before tonight’s series finale against the Marlins at Marlins Park. “He’s the leading candidate right now. He’s proven he can play third base, if in fact that’s the spot that’s there. He’s proven defensively he can play third base. And I think his bat has played. He’s shown a good steady bat. I think down the stretch it’s turned into a little bit of a long season for him possibly. I understand that. But the work ethic and the quality swing for a young guy like that is pretty good.”

Asche is hitting .248 with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs, 22 RBIs and a .735 OPS in 166 plate appearances. He started his career 1-for-17 and currently is in a 1-for-18 slump, which Sandberg attributes to a long season for Asche, who has played 149 games after not playing more than 130 in a season in the past.

In between, he has impressed the front office, coaching staff and teammates.

“I’ve been impressed,” Sandberg said. “I think he’s really settled into the Major League atmosphere and this level. I think he’s over that part of it. He doesn’t seem to be in any awe of the Major League atmosphere. And that’s another thing that’s good about this team he’s spent here. And really with a lot of the guys. That’s a big thing, getting a taste of this.”

So will Sandberg tell Asche he is the favorite for the job when they have their season’s end exit interview?

“I’d say come in and be ready to win a job,” Sandberg said. “You’ve shown you can play here. You’ve shown you can play at this level. Come in and be ready to take the job. I might say that to 25 or 35 guys in the locker room. They might all get the same message. He’ll be one of the guys to hear that.”

Sandberg Gets the Job

Ryne SandbergRyne Sandberg finally got his dream job.

The Phillies will announce at an 11:30 a.m. news conference today at Citizens Bank Park they have removed the “interim” label from Sandberg’s job title to make him Phillies manager. Sandberg becomes the 52nd manager in franchise history.

Sandberg replaced Charlie Manuel on an interim basis Aug. 16, but Sandberg has impressed the organization in that time. The Phillies are 18-16 under Sandberg, no small feat for a team that is 25th in baseball averaging 3.84 runs per game, 26th in baseball with a 4.30 ERA and 27th in run differential at minus-121.

It is not a surprise Sandberg got the job. Everybody in the world seemed to know it would happen. The only mystery remained when the Phillies would make the announcement.

They decided today would be the day.

Sandberg, who spent six seasons managing in the Minor Leagues to get a big-league opportunity, has received high marks from players in the clubhouse.

“Ryno is positive,” Phillies second baseman Chase Utley said Wednesday. “He’s always talking during the game. He’s definitely into the game, and guys respect him for that. He’s given a lot of guys an opportunity to play, which is nice. So far he’s done a great job.”

“There’s definitely a way he wants to do things,” Roy Halladay said earlier this month. “He’s set a tone early, and my guess would be that’s going to continue. He may even have more changes come Spring Training that he wants to see and that he wants to do. I think sometimes that can be a good thing, just to shake things up and make things different to where it’s not the same everyday routine. But he definitely has a way he wants to do things. It’s good that he’s not afraid to do it the way he wants to do it. If you’re going to do something, whatever job you do, you do it to the best of your ability and the way you want to do it and let everything take care of itself. I think he’s done that.”

Bowa Talks Ryno, Coaching for Ryno and Rollins

bowa and rollinsLarry Bowa had some interesting things to say Wednesday when he stopped by the ballpark.

First, he explained why Ryne Sandberg will be a good manager.

Second, he talked about possibly taking a job on Sandberg’s coaching staff.

But then he talked about Jimmy Rollins, whose .666 OPS is the lowest of his 14-year career. Bowa is a big Rollins fan. The two have a good relationship. One of my favorite Rollins-Bowa stories happened in the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park in 2004. Bowa was walking through the clubhouse past Rollins’ locker, when Rollins’ blurted, “Hey, Bo, you’ve got to pimp that walk. Drag that back leg.” Bowa didn’t miss a beat and responded, “I’d like to see you drag that back leg across home plate every once in a while.” Both men laughed.

“Jimmy still has a lot of baseball left in him,” Bowa said Wednesday. “You have to keep the volume up. Sometimes he likes to lower the volume. The volume is definitely turned back up (recently). I can see a big difference.”

Rollins is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs, seven walks, three stolen bases and a .991 OPS in his last 11 games. It’s a small sample size, but it’s something.

“I don’t even know if they talk,” Bowa said about Rollins and Sandberg, “but I see a difference in the way Jimmy has played lately. Ryno hasn’t said a word whether he’s talked to him, but I just watching Jimmy and see a difference in Jimmy. … “(Rollins is) lucky. You don’t play on winning teams every year. To me, the mark of a good player is – what, they are 18 games out? – you still have to post up. It’s hard to play like that, but you still have to do it. It’s easy to play when everything is going good. He’s been very lucky. Even when I was here, we were .500 or above. It’s fun to play like that. When you’re 18 games out, you have to kick it in, and it’s hard sometimes.”

Asche Making His Case

Cody AscheIf Cody Asche keeps playing like this, you’ve got to think he will be the Phillies’ Opening Day third baseman in 2014.

He went 3-for-4 with one home run and three RBIs in last night’s loss to the Nationals. Asche has hit in 10 of his last 11 games. He is hitting .375 (15-for-40) with three doubles, one triple, one home run and nine RBIs in that stretch. He is hitting .312 (24-for-77) in 22 games since beginning his big league career with one hit in his first 17 at-bats.

Two of his hits last night came against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, making him 5-for-13 with one double and four RBIs against left-handers this season. That is impressive, although it is a small sample size. Asche had an .869 OPS against right-handers this season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley compared to a .691 OPS against left-handers, so it remains to be seen how successful he can be against left-handers over an extended period of time. But that is why Asche has started 21 games against right-handers since joining the Phillies, compared to just three starts against left-handers.

Easing in a left-handed hitter against left-handed pitchers is nothing new. Larry Bowa did the same with Chase Utley and Charlie Manuel did the same with Ryan Howard.

The Phillies faced 31 left-handed starters (19.1 percent of their games) in 2003. Utley started just two of his 36 games (5.6 percent) against them. The Phillies started 28.4 percent of their games against left-handers in 2004. He started just seven of his 57 games (12.3 percent) against them. That disparity grew a little closer in 2005 — 29.6 percent of total games started against lefties compared to 20.6 percent for Utley — before Manuel truly turned Utley loose against lefties in 2006.

Howard started just one of five games in 2004 against lefties, and just 14 of 79 (17.7 percent) against them in 2005. Manuel turned him loose during his MVP season in 2006.

“I thought he had great at-bats,” Ryne Sandberg said about Asche. “It goes a long way with his ability. I think he can hit righties or lefties. He has the ability. He should get a big boost from his game tonight.”

The Future Unknown to Sandberg

Not too many people know what the future holds for Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg, but at the moment the smart bet is he will be in the dugout managing the Phillies in 2014.

He has been impressive through 12 games, although much can change.

Asked today at Citi Field if Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. provided him a timetable for a decision about his future, Sandberg said, “No, he didn’t talk about that. Nope. He told me … I’d be named interim manager and we were both on the same page. I might’ve had as much input or more to say than he did as far as these are meaningful games for evaluation of the players and all that. Fairly easy conversation but it was left at that.”

My gut simply tells me Sandberg is the guy. He has made some changes in the clubhouse. He has handled the games well. Everybody seems to be responding to him appropriately. I’ve got to think if that continues the job is his.

Sandberg Is Making Changes

Ryne Sandberg, Chase UtleyRoy Halladay yesterday tried to clarify his comments from Tuesday in Class A Lakewood, where he made waves when he discussed the Phillies’ managerial change.

Halladay has said both publicly and privately how much he has enjoyed playing for Charlie Manuel. I don’t think that was BS. I think he genuinely respected the former Phillies manager. But I think Halladay also hasn’t liked what he has seen in the clubhouse lately, and he tried to express those feelings to reporters. But he perhaps garbled his intended message and instead of saying the poor attitude, work ethic, etc., in the clubhouse needed to change, it sounded like he was reburying Manuel and blaming him for everything. That isn’t Halladay’s style, at least not in my experiences with him. He will speak his mind, but he’s not the type of guy to blast a manager, especially a few days after he has been fired.

But Halladay said what he said. So what about “guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra BP and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference?”

Ryne Sandberg said yesterday, “All I can say on that is being the third-base coach and infield instructor up to last week or five days ago, players came to the ballpark, they reported, they got their work in with the coaches and all of the players were ready to play every single game.”

Now, keep in mind, if Sandberg felt differently he certainly was not going to say, “Oh, yes. I completely agree with everything Halladay said. He’s right.” But that’s OK. Sandberg already has talked about lackadaisical play and things needing to change. My very early impressions of Sandberg are he is a man with a plan and a very good sense of how he wants to do things.

I saw evidence of that early this season. He instituted infield practice at home. That is something I have not seen since I started covering the team in 2003. Every once in a blue moon you’d see the team holding infield and outfield practice before a game, but typically only after a run or sloppy games. But Sandberg wanted this to happen, whether or not the team was playing well or poorly. These 20-minute sessions typically began before 4 p.m. for a night game, so I remember asking him if everybody needed to be there. I asked because at the time players didn’t need to be in uniform and on the field until the official team stretch, which is a little after 4 p.m. Sandberg seemed completely baffled by my question. He looked stunned.

“These are mandatory,” he said sternly.

That leads me to one small, but noteworthy change he has made since he took over Friday.

Sandberg has a 3 p.m. report time to the ballpark for 7 p.m. games.

That is new.

Like I said, in the past players needed to be on the field in time for their group stretch. But Sandberg is making sure everybody is at the ballpark no later than 3 p.m. Again, it’s a small, but noteworthy change. But for me, the biggest thing for Sandberg is changing attitudes in the clubhouse. The clubhouse has not been a positive place this season. Players are unhappy (examples here, here and here). Maybe that’s just how clubhouse are when teams are losing. But things certainly haven’t been helped by the negative energy and attitudes.

If Sandberg can get everybody in the clubhouse to focus their energies on what matters on the field instead of what happens off it, then I think Sandberg will have earned his keep and deserves the full-time job. So far the early returns are good.

Halladay Clarifies Comments on Manuel

Giants Phillies BaseballRoy Halladay made some very interesting comments last night following his rehab start in Class A Lakewood.

Most everybody took them as Halladay saying Charlie Manuel let things slip the past two seasons, and that Ryne Sandberg would get players back on track, refocused, rededicated, etc. But Halladay made a statement to reporters this afternoon, trying to clarify those comments.

Here is what he said:

“I felt like what was said necessarily wasn’t written. And I just want to make it well known that I have a lot of respect for Charlie. There were some articles put out that offended me and I’m sure offended Charlie. And I called him today and talked to him about it. We’ve been in a lot of contact. I loved playing for him. He was a great manager. Everybody here loved him. The players loved him. And he was a lot of the reason they won the World Series here. I just want to make that point clear. I was also trying to say that I feel like if there was somebody that’s going to replace a guy like that then it’s going to be a Ryne Sandberg type of person with the experience that he carries and everything else.

“But I really felt like a lot was lost in translation with respect to Charlie. I just want to make that clear. I don’t endorse any manager’s firing. The players get managers fired. Any time a manager is fired as a player you feel like you haven’t done your job.

“Really, that’s it. I just want to make sure the air is clear there. I talked to Charlie and we’re good. But I wanted him to know that I really enjoyed playing for him and as far as managers have gone, he’s the best I’ve ever been around. I really enjoyed the time with him. At the same token I look forward to working with Ryne, too. Really, that’s about it. I think I saw one title that said I endorsed the firing of Charlie Manuel. And that really bothered me, so I just wanted to make sure we were all clear.”

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