It's looking like Sandberg will be back

Phillies minor league manager Ryne Sandberg is likely to return next season. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

MILWAUKEE — There are two managerial openings still unfilled in baseball and Ryne Sandberg is a finalist for neither. The Cubs do not want to hire their Hall of Fame second baseman only to have to fire him one day. The Red Sox never interviewed Sandberg.

The only position for which Sandberg was interviewed — St. Louis — hired Mike Matheny with no managerial experience. So that leaves either a job on a major-league staff or a return to the minors for Sandberg.

Given that Sandberg was viewed as a managerial candidate this winter, it's hard to see a newly hired manager adding him to his staff for fear of always looking over his shoulder.

So this could be a major win for the Phillies, who are quite fond of Sandberg. Should he return to triple-A Lehigh Valley for the 2012 season, the Phillies theoretically have another season to find a spot for him on the major-league staff for 2013. Charlie Manuel's deal expires after the 2013 season. You do the math...

Phillies officials have had nothing but effusive praise for Sandberg's first season in the organization. A handful of players who spent time with the IronPigs in 2011 spoke highly of Sandberg's style.

Granted, nothing is a slam dunk. The fact that Sandberg has been passed over for numerous managerial jobs in the past two seasons raises a red flag. But no one has suggested the 52-year-old is unfit for a managing job eventually.

Who knows? Maybe it comes in Philadelphia.

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