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Sandberg stresses pregame prep, skill work

MIAMI -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg has created a structured environment that stresses pregame preparation.

That will continue next year.

"I like to have the players prepare to play a game," he said Monday at Marlins Park. "It all starts in Spring Training for me, and I think the tone is set in Spring Training, whether it's drills or defensive sessions or outfield sessions. I think the work needs to be done, and I think it needs to be quality and game-speed. It's actually work and not going through the motions. I think we can work on things more."

Sandberg has talked plenty in the past few weeks about players being in shape and being better prepared. He did not say that he has seen players out of shape, but he did say they can work more.

"Actually working on plays you're actually going to see and having that be a standard in Spring Training and maintaining it throughout the season, I think that's very important," he said. "And then you stay and get into shape."

Sandberg is talking about baserunning sessions, working on going from first to third, cutting the corners and getting good leads. He is talking about pitchers honing their moves to first base and holding runners.

He is not talking about grueling workouts every day during the summer, but 10-20 minute sessions, maybe one day during a homestand.

"This year, we had a 20-minute window for defense, which was plenty of time for that," he said. "Usually, we used up about half of that. To have that set up, where things are getting worked on and we're maintaining what we do in the spring, I think that's very easy to apply."

But will the modern ballplayer go for it?

"I'm not worried about that," Sandberg said. "I think it's all for the players' benefit to get better, and I think ultimately that's what you see. When wins come with that, it works hand in hand. That's what's preached. It's a team strategy, and this is how we're going to do it. Like I say, you can have a nice session in 12-15 minutes and then they go stretch. It's not a big time thing.

"And I think, I've noticed this year, they come out and they have fun with it. I hear them talking. Whether it's with the infield, the pitchers… I think they like it. I'm just trying to help them get better, help the team get better. I think it's hand-in-hand."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for
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