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Sandberg has Phillies going back to basics

Philly skipper had team working on fundamentals before series opener vs. Braves

PHILADELPHIA -- Ryne Sandberg on Friday fulfilled his promise that the Phillies would work more on their fundamentals.

He had his players on the field in the afternoon at Citizens Bank Park, working on the basics following a 9-1 loss Thursday to the Marlins and an overall tough start to their season, which includes a 5-11 record and 17 errors, which is tied with the Nationals for the most in Major League Baseball.

"No miracles," Sandberg said before the Phillies' series opener against the Braves. "Not asking for miracles, just make the routine plays and make it a priority. Keep the focus on playing good defense. Basic fundamentals of catching the ball, throwing the ball, routine plays, hitting the cutoff men."

Sandberg regularly held these early workouts at home when he replaced Charlie Manuel as manager in August 2013. They continued early in 2014 before fading midway through the season. Sandberg said in the offseason he would bring back those workouts with a relatively younger team.

Friday was the first extensive pregame workout since the season started.

"When we're at home here we utilize the field," Sandberg said. "Whether it's one or two guys on early work, whether it's one day the outfielders throwing to the bases or whether it's the middle infielders turning double plays, that's something that we established, and I established, in Spring Training and that's something we'll continue to do."

The Phillies know they have very little room for error this season with an offense that ranks last in baseball in runs per game and a pitching staff that leads the National League with 66 walks. It is possible players might be playing tight, fearing a bad result could lead to a loss.

"I don't think there's any reason to be tense," Sandberg said. "Rather than that, I'd rather have the guys talking on the field, create some relaxation there. But also being on the balls of their feet, anticipating the ball to be hit to all of them and making the routine plays and basically playing the game right. That's what's expected at this level.

"This is Major League Baseball and you have to play good defense. You have to play fundamental baseball at this level."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone. Follow him on Twitter.
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