Chicago Cubs

Sandberg moves on from Cubs, gets to work in Philly

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Sandberg moves on from Cubs, gets to work in Philly

Monday, Dec. 6, 2010
11:25 AM Updated 2:24 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Ron Santo couldnt remember Ryne Sandbergs name, even if the second baseman was the most popular Cubs player of his generation. So Santo called him big boy, and over the years it became their greeting to each other.

Santo and Sandberg both grew up in the Seattle area, and came of age as Cubs. For years they were both fixtures at Wrigley Field. It saddened Sandberg last week when he learned that Santo died at the age of 70 from complications with bladder cancer.

It will be hard to replace Ron Santo I dont think you can, Sandberg said Monday at the winter meetings. He wasnt your typical radio announcer, but everyone knew what he meant and how he felt, even if he didnt get all the facts right, all the names right.

(Everybody) knew how emotional he was about the game. That came across loud and clear on the radio.

If Sandberg feels estranged from the Cubs after being passed over for the job that ultimately went to Mike Quade, he didnt let it show. Sandberg, like Santo, will always be a Cubs legend, but now hes writing a new chapter to his story.

Sandbergs focused on managing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A club of the Philadelphia Phillies, the organization that first drafted him and later traded him and Larry Bowa to Chicago for Ivan DeJesus.

It kind of erases some of the people that Ive ran into the last 30 years, Sandberg said, Phillies fans (who) say: Youre the one that got away and all that.

There are Cubs fans who no doubt feel the same way, though Sandberg insists hes happy. He will take pride in all the prospects who loved playing for him at Class-A Peoria, Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.

We were a tight group, Sandberg said. For some of those players, we were tight for four years, so it will be great to see those guys go up there and contribute. Thats really gratifying. I hope some of them will get a shot next year and do well.

Sandberg was at the Swan and Dolphin resort on Monday representing the Hall of Fame, as part of the committee that elected executive Pat Gillick to Cooperstown. Santo will not be eligible for induction again until 2012, though the ballot hasnt been compiled yet and wont be revealed until next year.

Even with the outpouring of emotion for Santo, the committee wont be swayed easily. Gillick a former general manager in Toronto, Baltimore, Seattle and Philadelphia and the architect of three World Series champions was the only one chosen from a group that included George Steinbrenner and union leader Marvin Miller.

Sandberg could have spent the rest of his life signing autographs, but isnt satisfied with his legacy only being as a player. With the Phillies, he said hes not planning to wear the No. 23 the Cubs retired five years ago. Perhaps thats a sign hes breaking free from the past. This is a chance to build out his resume.

Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel will be 67 next season, but Sandberg certainly knows that he isnt promised anything. He remains open-minded about his future in managing, and the possibilities of another big-league job.

I havent really had a timetable, Sandberg said. I like what Im doing. I like where Im at.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Fuming over ninth-inning call, Joe Maddon is done with playing nice in MLB sandbox: ‘That’s asinine’

Fuming over ninth-inning call, Joe Maddon is done with playing nice in MLB sandbox: ‘That’s asinine’

A walk-off win in the middle of a pennant race didn’t dull the edge in Joe Maddon’s voice, the Cubs manager blasting Major League Baseball and expecting to be fined for his rant in the Wrigley Field interview room.    

“That’s asinine,” Maddon said after Wednesday night’s 7-6 victory over the Cincinnati Reds, fuming over the ninth-inning at-bat where Ben Zobrist showed bunt and got drilled by Wandy Peralta’s 96-mph fastball. Home plate umpire Ryan Blakney signaled for Zobrist to jog to first base, only to have first base umpire Chris Conroy call strike two.

“Listen, I don’t even know what to say about that call,” said Maddon, who stormed onto the field and got ejected for the second time this season. “We’ve had different things happen, and I’ve been playing really good in the sandbox. Really good. And I’m not right now. That call cannot be made under those circumstances.

“I can understand if the guy’s actually swinging, and all of a sudden you get like a check swing. But he’s bunting – and then trying to get out of the way – and you’re going to call a bunt?

“There’s no way any hitter under those circumstances – with the ball coming at his thigh – is going to bunt through it and then get hit in the thigh.

“That really almost did cost us the game. Fortunately, we came back, they made their wild pitch. But I’ve been playing good in the sandbox. That was wrong.”

Zobrist – who called for an electronic strike zone after watching a controversial strike three end Saturday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field – still managed to put the ball in play, move up Javier Baez and Jon Jay and keep the pressure on the last-place Reds.  

“I tried to pull the bat back, but there was nowhere for me to go,” Zobrist said. “It started right at me, and was going down towards my ankle, and I could not physically pull it back and still pull my ankle up at the same time. I tried to pull my ankle up and (Conroy) thought I was offering at it, apparently.”

Imagine the reaction if the Cubs hadn’t regrouped and maintained a 1.5-game lead on the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

“I know that instant replay is not perfect,” Maddon said. “But all this little minutia needs to be looked at as we move this along, because that impacted the game. That’s bases loaded, nobody out. It’s a different at-bat for (Albert) Almora. It’s a different thought for their pitcher. Everything’s different. The world rotates differently at that point.

“To influence a game like that is wrong. And, listen, the guy’s a good guy. I think he’s a good umpire. But I’m not going to concede consistently to these guys. You can’t make that mistake.”

The evolution of Kris Bryant and why Joey Votto became his favorite player

The evolution of Kris Bryant and why Joey Votto became his favorite player

Kris Bryant already has a bromance with Anthony Rizzo, their Bryzzo Souvenir Co. brand and a joint appearance at a downtown Chicago hotel this weekend where Cubs fans can pay $699 for their autographs.

Bryant also has a friendly rivalry with Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals superstar who loves trolling on social media and teasing where he might land as a free agent after the 2018 season. Even their wives had fun with it on Instagram earlier this month when the Nationals came to Wrigley Field for a potential playoff preview.

But the player Bryant patterns himself after now – the one who lives up to “The Science of Hitting” and the principles his father absorbed from Ted Williams and passed down in the family’s batting cage in Las Vegas – is Joey Votto.

“He’s the best player ever,” Bryant said before Wednesday night’s 7-6 walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds. “He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain.

“He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Favorite player? Really?

“Besides, you know, people on my team,” Bryant said with a laugh.

The Cubs contained Votto on a night where their bullpen nearly imploded, holding him to a 1-for-4 that stopped him from tying the major-league record Williams set in 1948 by getting on base at least twice in 21 straight games with the Boston Red Sox.

Through Votto, Bryant sees where he can grow after becoming a National League Rookie of the Year and MVP and World Series champion before his 25th birthday.    

“He’s not just doing it this year – he’s doing it his whole career,” Bryant said. “He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant – who has reached base safely in his last 13 games and put up a 1.035 OPS in August – is heating up at a time when the Cubs are trying to fend off the Milwaukee Brewers (1.5 games back) and St. Louis Cardinals (2.5 games back) in a tight division race.

Where Votto famously dismissed old questions about whether or not he was being too selective, Bryant blocks out any talk about an All-Star snub, his batting average with runners in scoring position (.227) or RBI total (54). Bryant is getting on base more than 40 percent of the time and also leads the team in doubles (25), runs scored (78) and OPS (.936).  

“Sometimes it’s almost like you can kind of go up there and force the pitcher to throw the pitch that you want, just by taking pitches,” Bryant said. “My first year, I was kind of just up there swinging at everything. I still felt the approach was good and it could work in the big leagues. And it did. But I think there’s ways to have a better approach up there.

“(Votto’s) a different guy with that. I feel like he’s aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it. And he mentioned that to me, too, when I got to first (on Monday night). He said: ‘Your approach looks a lot better this year.’”

Bryant sincerely thanked Votto, but the reigning MVP isn’t trying to put together a package deal with Harper and turn the Cubs into Major League Baseball’s version of the Golden State Warriors.  

“I already told him before: ‘We already have a pretty good first baseman. He’s not going anywhere,’” Bryant said. “Joey can switch positions if he wants to play for the Cubs.”