Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010
By Patrick Mooney
The legend of Ryne Sandberg seems to grow every time another player is promoted from Triple-A Iowa. Everyone wants to know about the Hall of Famer who throws batting practice and rides buses from one city to the next.
Finally, Jeff Samardzija just had to laugh at a reporters line of questioning on Tuesday afternoon inside the Cubs clubhouse.
No, we carried all his bags for him every time, Samardzija said. He big-leagued us the whole time.
Samardzija was joking and in a pretty good mood after being brought up from Iowa along with reliever Justin Berg, infielder Bobby Scales, and outfielders Sam Fuld and Brad Snyder. To make room for Scales and Snyder on the 40-man roster, the Cubs transferred pitchers John Grabow and Esmailin Caridad to the 60-day disabled list.
Barring injuries, general manager Jim Hendry does not plan to make any more September call-ups. And he gave no thoughts to adding Sandberg to the major-league coaching staff for the final 27 days of the season.
No, no, no, never considered that, Hendry said. Thats not something that would be conducive.
Hendry visited with Sandberg last week during a scouting trip to Albuquerque, N.M., but wouldnt classify their meeting as a formal interview during his search for the next Cubs manager.
Sandberg suddenly showing up for work this week at Wrigley Field where the fans adore him and the Ricketts family used to root for him would be a massive distraction to the team.
And it would be unfair to Mike Quade, the other candidate Hendry publicly identified. Quade, who used to manage in Iowa, learned a great deal during his Septembers in Chicago with Dusty Baker. But he also doesnt want to give this up.
Iowas season ended abruptly on Monday with a 7-6 loss to the Memphis Redbirds in Des Moines. At 82-62, Iowa finished tied for first in its division, but Memphis won the tiebreaker and advanced to the playoffs.
Even if the Cubs dont hire Sandberg the Pacific Coast League's Manager of the Year in 2010 his work wont go unnoticed by other organizations.
He never aired us out or (anything) like that, Scales said. I dont think he really had to. We played so well all year long that he just had a steady hand on the team (and) a good pulse on the clubhouse.
For his part, Quade hasnt been paralyzed by decisions, or overwhelmed by the public nature of his job. On the same day Iowa was eliminated from playoff contention, Quade benched Starlin Castro (and did so again Tuesday night).
The manager said he might challenge a veteran, and wont necessarily confront young players the same way.
Some of (Castros) lapses of concentration, Quade said, just (have) youth written all over it. You discipline your six-year-old different than you discipline your 17-year-old. Its case-by-case.
In sitting the 20-year-old shortstop for at least two games, it didnt sound like Quade was acting alone, though he wont be on the phone constantly asking permission.
(Jims) given me leeway to do what I want, Quade said. But I think any time you do something like thisits just not in my nature to do it and not talk to Jim or (assistant general manager Randy Bush) or my staff and say, Look, this is what Im thinking.
I get feedback from all over the place. But Ive been real happy because Jims given me the opportunity and said, Just do it. So in these situations Im kind of doing what I want.
Building consensus will be the responsibility of whoever manages the Cubs in 2011. Its not like hell enjoy the autonomy Bill Belichick does with the New England Patriots, or even the level of influence Lou Piniella used to wield earlier in his career.
Itll be about teaching, reading moods and developing relationships, or what worked for Sandberg during the fourth season of his apprenticeship.
It wasnt anything crazy, Scales said. He knew his team. He knew his guys. And its managing it doesnt matter what it is. Whether youre managing a team or a business, you got to know your personnel, and he did. (He) had a great handle on us all year.
Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.