Mackanin's time at Phils' helm is open-ended
After former manager Sandberg's resignation, 'good baseball man' takes over
PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin is the guy for now. What happens in the future is a mystery.
Ryne Sandberg surprised the Phillies on Friday when he announced his resignation to president Pat Gillick and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Sandberg said the team's poor record and imminent changes to the front office -- sources told MLB.com that Andy MacPhail will join the organization in a prominent leadership role before the end of next week -- played a factor into his decision, which he had been mulling for more than a week.
Amaro said Mackanin will be the team's interim manager through this weekend's series against the Nationals, which began with a 5-2 loss on Friday, although his stint could be longer.
"I'm still numb," Mackanin said. "I think the whole team is surprised that it happened. In speaking to Ryno, he just woke up this morning and came to the conclusion that that's what he was going to do. It's kind of a somber day."
So what happens after the weekend? Amaro offered little insight, but it could be that the Phillies only wanted to commit to Mackanin through the weekend because Sandberg caught them by surprise. They certainly could announce Mackanin will finish the season as manager.
Mackanin has experience with this. He replaced Reds manager Jerry Narron on an interim basis on July 1, 2007, when the Reds had the worst record in baseball. The Reds went 41-39 the rest of the way. He replaced Lloyd McClendon as the Pirates' interim manager on Sept. 6, 2005. The Pirates finished 12-14.
"He's a good baseball man," Amaro said of Mackanin. "We'll see where it goes. Frankly, it's a little open-ended right now. ... Pat, myself and others, we're in the process of seeing how things move forward. Right now, we'll have Pete move forward and we'll take over from there."
As luck would have it, Mackanin's Philadelphia managerial debut happened to come on the day the hottest pitcher in baseball, Max Scherzer, rolled into town to make a start. The Nationals' ace and former American League Cy Young Award winner started off Mackanin's tenure with 5 1/3 perfect innings before the Phillies were able to knock hits in each of the final four frames.
"His first game, you face a good pitcher," Revere said. "It's kind of tough when your first game is against Scherzer. From here on out, I'm real excited to play for this man."
The rest of the first game of Mackanin's third stint as an interim manager was relatively uneventful. Aside from a challenge he made in the top of the third inning, there weren't many key managerial moves to make. He pulled his starting pitcher for a pinch-hitter in the sixth, a wholly unsurprising move, and the only other pinch-hitter he used was again in the pitcher's slot in the eighth inning.
"It was pretty uneventful, strategically," Mackanin said. "I didn't have to make any huge moves or anything like that. There was just not a whole lot going on for most of the game."
Prior to the game, Mackanin said he felt bad for Sandberg, who had little chance of success with a roster that may not have had enough talent to be competitive.
"Deep down, he's really sincere and he gives it his all," Mackanin said. "We lost a good guy today, regardless of the reason or what happened."
But now that Mackanin is in charge, he needs to try to lead the Phillies as long as he is asked.
"This is my third time as an interim manager, and it's not fun," Mackanin said. "It's not a pleasant thing to do, because you have to make sure you keep the guys pointed in the right direction and at the same time, everybody's feeling a little bit funny. You've got to try to put it behind you as quick as possible, and that's not an easy thing to do. A lot of guys really enjoyed playing for Ryno and we enjoyed working for him. It's not a fun day."