Ryne Sandberg grinned the whole time. On a hot, sweaty day in Chicago, the Hall of Famer looked nice and cool.
Back at Wrigley Field for the first time as a MLB manager, this was exactly where he wanted to be.
Sandberg brought his Philadelphia Phillies to Chicago on Friday to open a three-game series against the Cubs, and it started with a 6-5 win Friday. It was his first trip to the ballpark where he rose to prominence during a 16-year playing career since he was promoted to the Phillies’ interim job on Aug. 16 after Charlie Manuel was fired.
“It means so much,” Sandberg said in the visitors’ dugout before the game. “A little different view from this angle here looking out but other than that, this was a place that was very comfortable for me as a player. It always solved any slumps that I was in as a hitter.”
Sandberg’s consistent, steady play over 15 seasons in Chicago turned him into one of the most beloved figures in the history of the woebegone franchise.
Nicknamed “Ryno,” he finished his career with a .285 batting average, 282 homers and 1,061 RBIs. The second baseman and Spokane native had his No. 23 retired by the team in 2005, the same year he was enshrined in Cooperstown.
He got quite the reception in his return to Chicago’s cozy neighborhood ballpark. The marquee at one neighboring bar read “WELCOME HOME RYNO,” and the Cubs showed highlights from Sandberg’s career on the scoreboard in right field before the game, along with a welcome-back message.
Clearing the bases
Right-hander Edinson Volquez signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers. Volquez was released by the Padres Tuesday, two days after the club designated him for assignment. … The Phillies and Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who defected to Mexico this year, have agreed to a $12 million, three-year contract. The team says it includes an option for 2017, a signing bonus and performance bonuses. … Cleveland has acquired outfielder Jason Kubel from Arizona. Kubel was designated for assignment this week by the Diamondbacks after he batted just .220 with five homers and 32 RBIs in 89 games. … Colorado reliever Rafael Betancourt has decided to have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his pitching elbow. He was injured a week ago against Philadelphia. An MRI confirmed the injury and he was placed on the 15-day DL.