The man involved in perhaps the most infamous trade in Phillies history could finally be returning to the organization that always regretted losing him.
Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg is among the candidates for the Phillies' managerial vacancy at triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Chuck LaMar, the Phillies' assistant general manager in charge of player development, said the team has just started the process of interviewing.
"We hope to have it filled in the near future," LaMar said. "I'm not going to comment beyond that."
Sandberg, 51, spent last season managing the triple-A Iowa Cubs and was a candidate to replace Lou Piniella after the Chicago Cubs' manager resigned in August. That job went instead to former Phillies coach Mike Quade, who had replaced Piniella on an interim basis during the season.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry recently confirmed that Sandberg would be leaving the organization. If Sandberg is offered a coaching job at the major-league level, he may be more likely to take that position than remain a minor-league manager.
The Phillies, of course, have an opening on their staff after the recent departure of first-base coach Davey Lopes, but it seems likely that position will be a minority hire, with former Phillies infielder Mariano Duncan a potential candidate. Duncan recently lost his job as the Los Angeles Dodgers' first-base coach.
Sandberg led Iowa to an 82-62 record during his first season as a triple-A manager and he was named the Pacific Coast League manager of the year.
"I really liked the way his team played," a National League scout said. "I liked the way they ran the bases."
Sandberg started his managerial career in 2007 with the Cubs' single-A Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League. After two seasons with Peoria, he was promoted to double-A Tennessee of the Southern League.
The Hall of Fame second baseman is best known in Philadelphia as being the "throw-in" player in a deal that sent shortstop Larry Bowa to the Cubs in exchange for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. A 20th-round pick by the Phillies in 1978, Sandberg went on to play in 10 All-Star Games and win an MVP award with the Cubs.
LaMar said the Phillies also must replace double-A Reading manager Steve Roadcap, and he hinted that the new manager would likely come from within the organization. Mark Parent, who led single-A Lakewood to the South Atlantic League championship this season, is a strong candidate for that job.