Jared Sandberg’s major league playing career is over, but at age 37 the Olympia native is on the fast track to a big-league managerial career.
When he takes the field as manager of the Durham (North Carolina) Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, for their season opener April 9, the 1996 Capital High School graduate will be the youngest manager in Triple A.
Sandberg’s managerial record is 309-256 over six seasons — all within the Rays’ organization. After retiring as a third baseman in 2007 following a career that included 196 major league games with Tampa Bay from 2001-03, Sandberg began his climb up the minor league managing ladder. He had four stops before Durham — Princeton (West Virginia) of the Appalachian Rookie League in 2009; Short Season-A Hudson Valley (New York) of the New York-Pennsylvania League from 2010-12; Single-A Midwest League’s Bowling Green (Kentucky) in 2013; and Advanced-A Charlotte of the Florida League last season.
Sandberg was a 16th-round draft pick of Tampa Bay after his senior year at Capital. Of his 12-year playing career, part of five were with the Bulls (2000-04). He sees returning to Durham as a homecoming.
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“The clubhouse still has a little similar feel to it,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg said his playing experience at Triple-A and Double-A helped prepare him for managing a Triple-A club, but his managerial experience at the lower levels taught him about patience.
“There’s so many things out of my control,” he said. “Managing at the Triple-A level, it’s about the Rays and the big-league team. Players getting ready for the big leagues ... managing the game with what you have day in and day out.
“It’s going to be a fun challenge.”
Sandberg was destined to coach — although his decision was made earlier than he might have wanted after retiring from a career spent bouncing between Red Sox, Royals, Astros and Indians affiliates. Coming from coaching family — his uncle, Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg, manages the Philadelphia Phillies, and father Del is a longtime South Sound high school basketball coach — Jared Sandberg calls himself a “baseball lifer.”
“Coaching is in our blood and at some point, I knew I’d have to get into it,” said Sandberg, who also heads the Olympia-based Sandberg Baseball Club, a select baseball organization. “I think I always knew I wanted to be a coach. It was sooner than I wanted to, but it’s something I really enjoy.”