Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Morandini climbing back toward majors in second pro career

The Lehigh Valley coaching staff includes some reinforcements this year, at the expense of the local shore team, with former Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini added to the Triple-A team's dugout personnel.

Taking on the newly created duty of bench coach, the 1996 National League All-Star hopes to use his third professional coaching assignment as a stepping stone back to the top level of the sport.

It's not just players that want to ascend upward in the ranks.

Having been the manager of the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws for each of the past two seasons and the skipper of short-season Class A Williamsport prior to that, Morandini took on the new role with the IronPigs after advising the Phillies that he wanted to do whatever he could to move closer to the major leagues.

Joining incumbent manager Dave Brundage, hitting coach Sal Rende and pitching coach Ray Burris, Morandini is absorbing as much as he can and is slated to take on various levels of duties with Lehigh Valley.

"I'm gonna be coaching some third base, some first base, I'll be in charge of the infielders and some base running, so it's gonna be a multitude of things that I'll do.  But, it's going well.  I'm looking forward to it," Morandini excitedly stated last week.

As a member of the Triple-A staff, Morandini was among the coaches utilized for big league spring training this year as well.  He hopes to use his time around those at the top and the knowledge of his counterparts to his advantage.

"I learned a lot in big league camp this year," Morandini said.  "I really enjoyed that, being around the Bowa's and the Sandberg's and all those guys.  And I'm with, really, a veteran coaching group here.  They've been around a long time, so I'm just trying to learn as much as I can from them and trying to help these players stay in shape and do the right things and get them prepared so when the big club needs somebody, they're ready to go up." 

While he climbs his way through the developmental ranks for his second career in pro ball, Morandini has noticed some upgrades in the facilities, in places such as Lakewood, that he feels are advantageous to today's players and fans alike. 

"There weren't a lot of good parks (when I played)...not like there are now," Morandini asserted.  "You've got some state-of-the-art minor league parks now.  There were a lot of old buildings.  The playing surface wasn't very good at times.  You didn't draw very well.  Minor league baseball has come a long way with the stadiums and the fan support and things like that."

Morandini will look to use the increasingly posh digs of today's minor league teams as launching pads back toward the big leagues in the coming seasons, as another recent BlueClaws manager, Mark Parent, did, when he took a job as bench coach for the Chicago White Sox after leading Lakewood to a South Atlantic League title in 2010 and helping Reading clinch a playoff berth the following year.

Taking over for Morandini as BlueClaws skipper this year is Greg Legg, who had served as the team's hitting coach since 2008 and previously managed Lakewood in 2001.  This season will mark Legg's 33rd year in the Phillies organization.

The BlueClaws will open their 2014 home schedule this Thursday at 6:35 PM, when they host the Hagerstown Suns for the first of a four game series.


This article was originally posted on ShoreSportsNetwork.com.  

No comments: