Ryne Sandberg was passed over as Chicago Cubs manager last fall, but the Hall of Fame second baseman said he won't rule out a return to his former team if the position opens up in the future.
The Cubs chose Mike Quade, who was 24-13 as interim manager after taking over for Lou Piniella last season, over fan favorite Sandberg, who was the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
After losing out to Quade, Sandberg left the Cubs to join the organization that drafted him, the Philadelphia Phillies, as manager of their Triple-A affiliate, the LeHigh Valley Iron Pigs.
"I had my fingers crossed last year," Sandberg said about the Cubs job. "I feel like I'm doing what I need to do for an opportunity, and that's basically what I'm doing. I like what I'm doing now, it's very gratifying to me, but I'm also gaining experience to hopefully coach or manage at the major league level. Now it's really coming down to getting that opportunity and being ready for it."
Sandberg said he is surprised by the struggles of the Cubs, who have the second-worst record in baseball at 37-55.
"I'm not surprised at the young talent that has gone up there like Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro and there's other players on their way," Sandberg said. "I'm surprised at the struggles [the Cubs] have had. To watch that from a distance, it's there but they still have the second half. They can still rebound."
While managing at the major league level is his ultimate goal, Sandberg has enjoyed his time with the Iron Pigs, who entered the All-Star break with the best first-half record in team history at 53-47 and in first place in the International League North.
And apparently the fans enjoy having him there as well -- Sandberg said LeHigh Valley is the top draw in the minor leagues, averaging more than 10,000 fans a game.
"It's been a great experience to see a different side of things," Sandberg said. "What I can say about the Phillies is it's very family-oriented and it's also an organization from top to bottom. They get everybody included. Everybody feels important. There's tremendous communication up and down the lines and really everybody is on the same page and has the same goals and that is to win a World Series at the major league level. That's the goal. That's what everybody talks about."