CHICAGO -- Darwin Barney still has a bat autographed by Ryne Sandberg, his former Triple-A manager. The current Cubs second baseman also remembers all the lessons he learned from the former one, now a Hall of Famer and back at Wrigley Field on Friday as the Phillies' interim manager.
"I admired the way he prepared for the game every day, his intensity, the way baseball was his life," Barney said before the Cubs' 6-5 loss to the Phillies. "He went about it the right way and respected it, where he's like, 'I'll start in the Minor Leagues and won't try to jump on with a buddy and be a bench coach.' He wanted to learn how to manage. The way he went about his business every day, and the way he helped me out before games at second base [was huge]."
Sandberg spent four seasons in the Cubs' organization as a Minor League manager, and he was passed over for the big league job twice. He then left to manage in the Phillies' system and was on the big league team's coaching staff this year. When Charlie Manuel was dismissed, Sandberg took over.
Barney was Iowa's starting shortstop, but he was passed over when the Cubs promoted Starlin Castro from Double-A Tennessee in May 2010. Barney went to Sandberg because he wanted to know what to do to earn that call. Sandberg and Barney began working at second base before games three times a week, at home and on the road.
"I was fortunate to have a good relationship with him," Barney said. "The ability to communicate with him was very helpful."
Cubs manager Dale Sveum could relate to Sandberg's interim status. Sveum was the Brewers' interim manager for 12 games in 2008.
"The biggest thing is we're probably taking over in the same kind of way," said Sveum, hired as the Cubs' manager prior to the 2012 season. "I took over as interim with 12 games. He's got a couple months, six weeks. As a coach, you've got your own little world, and then all of a sudden, you have everybody's little world, all 25 players, and the game management as well. You have so many responsibilities, [including] the media as well as the game management as well as managing 25 players."
Sveum said he didn't even think about being an "interim" manager. He was the manager.
"You're just managing at that time, you don't worry about any tag," he said. "You have a job to do and that's all you can do."
Sveum expected the Wrigley Field crowd to give Sandberg a nice welcome.
"A guy coming back to a place where he was a Hall of Famer, he deserves a lot of attention," Sveum said. "He had a heck of a career here in Chicago. On the field, off the field, he was the ultimate professional, and [he] deserves all the attention he's going to get. He's one of the best players of all time."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less