Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Phillies have made a managerial change, replacing Charlie Manuel with Ryne Sandberg on an interim basis.
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made the announcement Friday before the Phillies opened a three-game set against the surging Los Angeles Dodgers, calling the difficult move one the club "needed to make as we look towards the future."
The Phillies were blanked, 4-0, in Sandberg's debut.
The 69-year-old Manuel had been at the helm since 2005 and departs as the winningest manager in Phillies history with a record of 780-636 over his eight-plus years. He guided the franchise to five straight division titles from 2007 through 2011, as well as the club's second World Series championship after the 2008 campaign.
"I did not resign and I did not quit," Manuel said, acknowledging that he was fired. "I think it was an understanding."
During the Phillies' National League East reign, they saw their win total increase every year from 89 in 2007 to a franchise-record 102 in 2011.
However, the Phillies were just 53-67 entering Friday's game and had fallen to fourth place in the NL East. They are headed for their first losing season since the 2002 team finished 80-81 under Larry Bowa. Last year's squad needed a late surge to finish 81-81.
Amaro, who became emotional when talking about Manuel, had informed him that his contract would not be renewed following the 2013 season and decided the appropriate course of action was to make an immediate change with the best interest of the future of the organization in mind.
"I toiled with whether we should wait until the end of the year or give this opportunity to Ryne Sandberg at this time on an interim basis," Amaro said. "I didn't see any reason why we should drag it out and let (Manuel) sit for the next 40 games knowing that he wasn't going to be the manager beyond this year. I don't think that was fair to him. Additionally, it gives us an opportunity to see what we have in Ryne Sandberg and how he can handle being a major league manager for the Philadelphia Phillies."
Sandberg, in the midst of his third year in the Phillies organization, earned his first major league coaching position when he was named the club's third base coach for this season after a two-year stint as manager for Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Ever since the 53-year-old Hall-of-Famer joined the club that drafted him in 1978, the public perception was that he would eventually succeed Manuel.
Amaro denounced those claims.
"By no means was that the case. We were trying to continue to fortify our player development system," Amaro said. "We brought him in to make our organization better. He showed us, for the two years he was with Lehigh Valley, that guys played for him. They played with energy, they played with life."
Sandberg also managed four years in the Chicago Cubs system and has compiled a 439-409-1 record as a skipper in the minors.
"Little bittersweet moment for myself under the circumstances," Sandberg said. "A goal of mine seven years ago when I got into managing in the minor leagues with the Cubs was to get back to the major league level."
While Sandberg gets his first crack as a manager in the majors, Manuel, who was asked to remain with the organization, still has the drive to manage for a couple more years, but needs some time to think more about his future plans.
Manuel, who also skippered the Cleveland Indians for 2 1/2 seasons from 2000 through July 12, 2002, recently became the 59th manager in major league history to register 1,000 career wins. He owns a lifetime mark of 1,000-826.
Sandberg's previous role as third base coach has been filled by first base coach Juan Samuel. Assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner inherited Samuel's former duties.