By Peter Gleason
It is obvious to anyone with eyes and a brain that the Phillies are in a rebuilding period.
The front office has made that clear, saying the team might not compete again until 2017. But manager Ryne Sandberg must manage, the players must play and they would like to win more than they lose, if possible.
“I don’t look at ‘rebuild,'” Sandberg told reporters this morning at Bright House Field, where Phillies pitchers and catchers will officially report to camp Thursday. “I look at, well, it’s transition. It’s where we’re at. I’m excited to see some young players. I think young players are needed in the game, mixed in there. I’m anxious to see some of the guys … continue to be Philadelphia Phillies and move forward as core players. So I don’t think rebuild is a mentality that I have. I think younger players have a chance of adjusting to new things and making that the new norm for Phillies baseball, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon will be on the field Thursday. It is no secret the Phillies want to get younger, and trading their three highly-paid veteran pitchers would speed up that process. But for now, they remain Phillies.
“That’s part of the business and I believe that they realize that,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg said he doesn’t expect those worlds to collide in the clubhouse.
“Not with the conversations they’ve shared, not only with myself, but with [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and with some of the coaches,” he said. “All the guys are anxious to see a different blend of players, to be part of the process with the younger players.”
“That will be a group effort,” Sandberg said of the change. “I’m looking forward to that part of it and applying that. It’s getting veteran players involved in that and giving responsibility out to the coaching staff, to certain players. And with some of the players coming back, we’ve had a great minicamp out here the last two weeks with about 35 guys here and it’s gone terrific. They’ve gone about it the right way.”On the eve of the team’s first workout, Sandberg is trying to be optimistic.
“We have a chance to surprise some people,” he said. “When I look at how the game starts with starting pitching and the guys that we have right now and our bullpen and the way that our season went last year, a lot of games were tight through six innings. We can be a surprise type of a team. The other thing we can do is try to improve every day with our players and develop some younger players. You never know in baseball. You get the right guys together on the same page, you just never know.”