Durham Bulls players talk about manager Jared Sandberg
Former major-league infielder Jared Sandberg wants to make it back to baseball’s biggest stage.
Coaching in two All-Star games this week, looking at young players trying to make the leap to the majors, Sandberg considered his own future in the game.
“I haven’t quite reached my goals yet,” he said. “I’d like to get back to the big leagues as a coach.”
Sandberg, an Olympia native, is now in his third season managing Triple-A Durham. He has the Bulls leading the International League South at the All-Star break.
And Durham (55-34) is a comfortable 10-1/2 games in front of Gwinnett in the division entering the second half of the season.
“In my third year (in Durham), I’ve gained a lot of experience,” Sandberg said. “I think getting to the big leagues is the next step.”
But he said he’s patient, and is enjoying where he’s at — this week in particular.
Sandberg coached in the All-Star Futures game in Miami on Sunday before arriving in Tacoma earlier this week to coach in Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star game at Cheney Stadium.
Earlier in the week, he pitched to Columbus slugger Richie Shaffer in the home run derby, and tossed batting practice to IL players.
Durham infielder Patrick Leonard, one of four Bulls joining Sandberg in Tacoma, said Sandberg is players’ coach.
Sandberg’s knowledge for the game paired with his approachable personality gels well with players, Leonard said.
“He’s so even keel,” Durham catcher Mike Marjama said. “It’s the perfect fit for being a manager.”
The Bulls haven’t yet made the playoffs under Sandberg, but are on pace to easily pass where they finished the past two seasons.
Sandberg, 39, has quickly risen through the coaching ranks since retiring as a player in 2007. He has been either a coach or manager in the Rays’ farm system since and was named Durham’s fourth manager in 2015.
Sandberg spent nine seasons during his 12-year playing career with Tampa Bay’s organization — including several stints with the Bulls — after being drafted out of Capital High School in 1996.
“A lot of the people who were there when I was 18 years old and helped groom me into the person I am now, they’re still there,” Sandberg said.
“They’ve helped and developed me, not only as a persona and player, but now as a coach as well. They’ve taught me a lot.”
But Sandberg’s baseball pedigree goes even further back.
He is the nephew of Hall-of-Famer Ryne Sandberg, who at one point in his career made 10 consecutive All-Star appearances during his 16-years with the Phillies and Cubs.
Ryne Sandberg later went on to manage the Phillies.
Jared Sandberg’s father, Del, played for Washington State University the last time the Cougars reached the College World Series in 1976.
He has coached multiple sports at several local high schools.
“Coaching is in my background,” Jared Sandberg said. “I enjoy coaching, I enjoy giving back, but I also enjoy getting players to the next level.”
Sandberg’s players, though, don’t think he’s too far off from the next level himself.
“He’s got the knowledge for the game, he loves the game,” Leonard said. “I think he has a great opportunity to (go) up there.”