Reporting Matt Leon
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By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Mickey Morandini spent nearly nine seasons patrolling second base for the Phillies and he was a key member of that unforgettable 1993 squad that came out of nowhere to win the National League pennant. These days, he’s back in the Phillies organization, helping to develop young talent as the manager of the Single-A Lakewood BlueClaws.
“It’s been great. I enjoy it,” Morandini tells KYW Newsradio. “I enjoy teaching these kids how to play the game. Teach them some life lessons on and off the field. Most important thing for us, obviously we want to win, but we want these kids to get better and kind of evaluate them from April and see where they’re at in August. And I think most of these young guys and prospects are on the right path.”
This is Morandini’s second year as a skipper in the Phillies system – last season he was with the short-season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters. Morandini’s last year as a player in the majors was 2000 and he says managing was always something that interested him.
“I always wanted to get back in the game at some point. When I retired, my kids were real young, I have three boys, and they were all real young, so I wasn’t ready to get back into the traveling and being away from home. So I took a few years off, then got into high school coaching and coached high school baseball for four years. Then an opening came up with the Phillies and with the kids being older now and where I think everybody could handle me being away for three months in the summer, it was a good opportunity for me to jump on it. I know (Phillies GM) Ruben (Amaro Jr.) real well, I know (Phillies President) Dave Montgomery real well and I just through it was time to get back into it.”
Morandini was selected by the Phillies in the 5th round of the 1988 MLB draft and he spent his first eight seasons in Philadelphia before being traded for Doug Glanville prior to the 1998 campaign. He then returned to play 91 games with the Phils in 2000 prior to being traded again, this time for outfielder Rob Ducey. Needless to say, he enjoyed his time in a Phillies uniform.
“It was very special. Obviously ’93 was a special year for us, but just in general it’s a great organization, they take care of the players very well, they care about the players. I’ve been in other organizations where once the player leaves the organization they really don’t pay much attention to you. But the Phillies have always been very good to me. For me to come back here and be part of the organization again, it’s a very special thing.”
During that 1993 season, Morandini platooned at second base with Mariano Duncan, hitting .247 in 120 games. He recalls when he started to think they had something special that year.
“I think just a couple of wins out on the west coast where Milt Thompson pulled it back, a grand slam (great catch against the Padres). And the next day I dove for a line drive (turned it into a double play), with Mitch Williams in trouble against the Dodgers and we got out of a jam there. I think just the way we won ballgames there in May and June, we really felt like we had something special. It was a great team, a bunch of guys that really got along, pulled for each other, and really just played the game the right way.”
Of course, the Phillies beat the Braves for the pennant, before losing the 1993 World Series to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games.
Morandini finished his career as a .268 hitter.
This season, his BlueClaws went just 26-43 in the first-half of the South Atlantic League season. But they are 15-9 here in the second half, and a five-game winning streak has them just a half-game out of first in the Northern Division. The SAL utilizes a split-season format.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.