Bypassed Sandberg sets sights on other opportunities
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org
Ryne Sandberg spent four seasons managing in the Cubs' system and was the Pacific Coast League manager of the year in 2010.
By hiring Mike Quade as their manager, the Cubs cut ties with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, costing them one of the most popular players in franchise history.
With one ''disappointing'' phone call from general manager Jim Hendry early Tuesday, Sandberg said he has shifted his focus to opportunities with other teams.
''My message to Jim and [chairman] Tom Ricketts was I wish Mike Quade the best and wish Jim and the Ricketts family the best,'' he said. ''I enjoyed working with them the last four years and with the young players and wish them all the best going forward.''
Asked specifically about his willingness to return to the organization, he called it ''hypothetical'' but seemed to leave little room for that possibility.
''All I can go on is what I was offered,'' said Sandberg, who spent the last four seasons managing at three minor-league levels for the Cubs. ''I wasn't offered anything. I can't make up my own job. I can't offer myself a job. ... I would have managed the Cubs.''
Hendry and Ricketts said they respected the job Sandberg did in the system and suggested hope of a longer-term reconciliation with the candidate most Cubs fans seemed to want, judging by the e-mails and local airwaves.
''Ryne Sandberg, as great a player as he was, he's just as good a human being, and it wasn't an easy call to make [Tuesday] morning,'' Hendry said. ''I've grown to really like Ryno the last three, four years. What he did going to the minor leagues and the way he carried himself was very, very good. He's a Cub icon. I think Tom Ricketts and his family are very aware of how important it is that Ryno [in the] long term be a member of the Cub family.
''And he's disappointed. He was tremendously classy [Tuesday] morning. I'm sure, like a lot of people, you feel like your heart's set on that. At the same time, he handled it great. And over time, I hope that he certainly will be a Cub in some capacity forever.''
Sandberg, the Pacific Coast League manager of the year in 2010, indicated he was focused only on the Cubs' job until he got Hendry's call, but he said his agent already is seeking out possible interest from other teams.
The Toronto Blue Jays, who are still in the early stages of their managerial search, reportedly have him on their lengthy list of potential candidates. Four other teams also have openings.
''The initial phone call was disappointing,'' Sandberg said. ''I felt like I situated myself and positioned myself to be a serious candidate. I feel like I got that chance and that opportunity with going through the interview process, but to come up a little short, that's disappointing.''
Sandberg said Hendry told him it came down to a ''gut feeling.''
''I felt good about the process,'' said Sandberg, who was one of three finalists to interview with Ricketts, along with Quade and Eric Wedge. ''I felt good from my end how it went. I felt very prepared with the four years I put in with managing. I felt very positive about it and very good about it.''
Despite a perception in some corners that Sandberg wasn't seriously considered, Hendry insisted that wasn't the case.
''I get offended when I read he never had a chance,'' Hendry said, ''or that we never should have let him go do the work in the system. Those things are so unfair and wrong. That's the part that bothers me.
''I think Ryno, as disappointed as he was maybe in the final decision, he was comfortable with the process. ... At the end of the day, I have one job to do. ... My job was to do what's best for the Cubs, and that's what I did.''
As a result, what Sandberg does next will have little or nothing to do with the Cubs.
''I just digest it today and just kind of change my focus and change my way of thinking a little bit,'' he said, ''and see if there's another opportunity out there somewhere to manage at the major-league level or coach at the major-league level. ...
''With the intensity of the Cubs' search and being a finalist there, I think that could have detracted some of that [potential outside interest]. We'll see if that's the case or not.''
Sandberg already seems to have come to terms with the strangeness of being in a different uniform for the first time since a 13-game big-league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1981.
''That would just be going to somewhere where the opportunity was available,'' he said. ''My goal all along was to get back to the major leagues. So at this point, you just change the wheels and get them going in a little bit different direction.''
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