The month of June was monumental and memorable in Jared Sandberg’s managerial career.
There was his 200th career win as a minor-league manager, followed days later by managing a no-hitter using four pitchers, the first nine-inning no-hitter in team history for the Single-A Bowling Green (Ky.) Hot Rods.
Sandberg, a 1996 Capital High School graduate who spent 11 seasons in the Tampa Bay organization, including 192 big-league games, mostly at third base, is in his fifth season as a minor-league manager for the Rays, his first year managing the Hot Rods.
He doesn’t shy away from the possibility the June 21 no-hitter might’ve been the team’s second no-hitter in two weeks. When he pulled starter Jeff Ames after five innings in a 5-1 win over the Lansing (Mich.) Lugnuts on June 15, he failed to notice Ames hadn’t allowed a hit. He quickly learned from his blunder.
“I was more tuned in with this no-hitter,” he said.
That no-hitter foursome in a 14-1 win over Lansing included former Shorewood High School standout Blake Snell as the starter, followed by Eduar Quinonez, Nick Sawyer and Marcus Jensen in relief. Sandberg said sharing the memory with the four players made the moment “more special.” His pitching staff has a Midwest League-best 3.17 earned-run average on a team with a 43-34 record.
This has been a season of change for Sandberg. After three seasons managing the Hudson Valley (N.Y.) Renegades, a Single-A short-season team, he’s in his first season managing at the higher A level. A goal is to be a big-league manager, but he knows he has to pay his dues.
His family recently joined him. Wife Julie and their children, 6-year-old son Evan and 3-year-old daughter Clara, recently joined Sandberg in Kentucky from their Olympia home. This was the first time his family wasn’t able to join him when the season began in April, leaving a big void.
“The last four or five years, they’ve been with me all the time,” Sandberg said. “I went two months without seeing the kids. It gets tougher as we move forward and the kids get older and are in school.”
His milestone 200th win in the minors, coming June 13 in a 7-3 win over Dayton (Ohio) Dragons, went almost without notice.
Even Sandberg was unaware of the achievement until his players erupted in cheers and applause on the bus following the game. He quickly turned to social media, posting, “Thanks to all of the players who have allowed me to win 200 games as a manager” on Twitter.
But Sandberg, whose uncle Ryne Sandberg was a Hall of Fame infielder for the Chicago Cubs, knows it’s not about the wins and losses, but about the players’ development and character.
“It’s about getting these players and the Tampa Bay Rays organization better every day and developing them as players and human beings,” Sandberg said.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports @megwochnick