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updated: 11/3/2011 9:47 AM

Sandberg says Cubs fans should believe in Theo

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  • Ryne Sandberg former Chicago Cub star and hall of fame player and now manager of the Peoria Chefs signs autographs at Wrigley Field. His team is playing against Kane County Cougars.

       Ryne Sandberg former Chicago Cub star and hall of fame player and now manager of the Peoria Chefs signs autographs at Wrigley Field. His team is playing against Kane County Cougars.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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There are many people upset today that Ryne Sandberg won't be the next Cubs manager, or that he won't even get a chance to interview for the job.

But there's a couple things they should know.

First of all, Theo Epstein is going to hire someone he and his people know well, and Epstein spent only a short time with Sandberg in Boston last year when Sandberg interviewed for a minor league job.

The other thing is Sandberg himself isn't upset.

"Theo called me 10 minutes after they issued the press release (on Mike Quade) and told me that they have a list of guys and I'm not on it,'' Sandberg said Wednesday afternoon. "He wished me good luck and said he hoped I got a chance somewhere soon.

"He didn't owe me that at all. He didn't have to do that. It was a classy move and I'm very appreciative of the phone call. In the end, I wished him and everybody there good luck.''

To listen to Sandberg is to believe him when he says he wants nothing but the best for the Cubs and their fans, and thinks no one should be upset that Sandberg didn't get the chance here.

"Cubs fans should have trust in Theo. They're in great hands with him and Jed (Hoyer) and Jason (McLeod),'' Sandberg said. "They're heading in the right direction and they're going to do everything in their power possible to get the Cubs where they ultimately want to be.''

If anything, Epstein did Sandberg a favor Wednesday by not pretending he might get the job.

In the meantime, reports Wednesday suggested that the Cardinals plan to interview Sandberg soon for their managerial opening.

"I'm hopeful for an opportunity,'' Sandberg said, though he wouldn't comment about the openings in Boston or St. Louis. "I've worked hard for five years to try to get better every year with the ultimate goal of being a major league manager.

"When I was a minor league player, my goal was to be a major leaguer. It's no different as a minor league manager.

"Your first responsibility is to the organization, to teach and prepare players to get to the big leagues and have them ready when they get there, but everyone in the minors wants to be in the majors.''

Sandberg will be named Baseball America's Minor League Manager of the Year this week, not all that surprising considering the way the Phillies organization talked about Sandberg this season.

So the perception is no longer that Sandberg is only a Cub and was in this only to become manager of the Cubs. The belief now is that he will get his chance somewhere and if not this fall, there's talk that he may be the heir apparent in Philadelphia.

"Leaving the Cubs when I did (a year ago) was a good experience for me,'' Sandberg said. "I got to see another organization and see how they do things. It also opened up a lot of doors for me because I think people understood I was taking this quest seriously, and that it wasn't just about the Cubs.

"The Phillies liked the work I had done with the Cubs and really wanted me there. They were on the phone as soon as my contract was up in Chicago and it was just a great feeling to be wanted, to be appreciated for the work you do.

"They gave me a chance to continue managing and to get better as a manager and I believe I learned a lot this year.''

As for where he may wind up, Sandberg said he's comfortable with the process now, unlike a year ago, and is just a guy looking for a job.

"I have to do what I have to do and you have to go where the opportunities are," Sandberg said. "I'm still optimistic and hopeful for an opportunity. If it doesn't happen, I have the chance to remain with the Phillies, which is just a tremendous place to work.

"Things happen for a reason. I had a major year of growing away from the Cubs and having success.

"When I left the Cubs last year, their first offer was to walk around spring training and hit fungos and sign autographs. That's when I started thinking seriously about looking elsewhere.

"It's been great for me. Starting fresh was good for me and I found success in a different place. It's brought me a step closer and I feel good that eventually I'm going to get the chance."


brozner@dailyherald.com


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