Ryne Sandberg grinned the whole time. On a hot, sweaty day, the hall of famer looked cool and comfortable.
Back at Wrigley Field for the first time as a major-league manager, this was exactly where he wanted to be.
Sandberg brought his Philadelphia Phillies to Chicago on Friday to open a three-game series against the Cubs. It was his first trip to the ballpark where he rose to prominence during a 16-year playing career since he was promoted to the interim job on Aug. 16 after Charlie Manuel was fired.
“It means so much,” Sandberg, 53, said from the visitors’ dugout on Friday. “A little different view from this angle here looking out but other than that, this was a place that was very comfortable for me as a player. It always solved any slumps that I was in as a hitter.”
Sandberg’s consistent, steady play over 15 seasons in Chicago turned him into one of the most beloved figures in the history of the woebegone franchise. Nicknamed “Ryno,” the second baseman had his No. 23 retired by the team in 2005, the same year he was enshrined in Cooperstown.
He got quite the reception in his return to Chicago’s cozy neighborhood ballpark. The marquee at one neighboring bar read “WELCOME HOME RYNO,” and the Cubs showed highlights from Sandberg’s career on the scoreboard in right field before the game, along with a welcome back message. The crowd cheered Sandberg often.
Phillies sign star Cuban pitcher
The Philadelphia Phillies and Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, 26, agreed to a $12 million, three-year contract. The Phillies say the deal includes an option for 2017, a signing bonus and performance bonuses. Left-hander John Lannan was moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Orioles add Morse in trade
Seattle outfielder Michael Morse was traded to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for outfielder Xavier Avery. Morse, 31, hit .226 with 13 homers in 76 games for Seattle. He missed 31 games early this season with a broken finger.
Cards add Axford to bullpen
The St. Louis Cardinals acquired right-handed reliever John Axford from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named. Axford, 30, is 6-7 this season with a 4.45 ERA and 19 saves in 62 games. He led the NL with 46 saves in 2011.
Around the leagues
Veteran starter Edinson Volquez signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. … Colorado Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt will have Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ligament in his pitching elbow. … The Minnesota Twins placed right-hander Samuel Deduno and outfielder Wilkin Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list and recalled left-hander Pedro Hernandez from Double-A New Britain and outfielder Darin Mastroianni from Triple-A Rochester. … The Texas Rangers recalled left-handed reliever Joseph Ortiz from Round Rock and sent down right-hander Ross Wolf. … The Cincinnati Reds recalled left-hander Zach Duke from Triple-A Louisville and designated right-hander Justin Freeman for assignment.