Sandt likes minors for work ethic, lessons and, above all, fun
Unlike players, Tommy Sandt couldn't care less whether he makes the big leagues again.
'Absolutely not' is how Sandt, a Portland resident and the new Triple-A Beavers' hitting coach, characterizes his desire to coach again in major league baseball.
Sandt spent 17 years as first base coach for Pittsburgh, Florida and Colorado. He had two stints with the Pirates, the last from 2000-02.
'You have to be away from home for eight months out of the year,' he says. 'You get tired of that.'
Minors are prime for learning
Sandt was first-base coach for Pirate teams that won three National League East Division pennants (1990-92), and he manned the position for the World Series champion Marlins in 1997. He lived the high life, staying in five-star hotels, eating in fine restaurants, having his bags carried for him and working with the likes of manager Jim Leyland and slugger Barry Bonds.
But the minors are 'more fun,' he says, adding, 'I want to give something back to the game. And even if you're a dummy, you learn something in the minors.'
The Beavers play a 19-game preseason schedule in Arizona starting Monday, but Sandt and Manager Craig Colbert won't know which players will be theirs until the parent San Diego Padres break big-league camp in late March.
Portland opens the season April 8 at Las Vegas. The home opener at PGE Park is April 16 against Las Vegas.
New faces abound
Sandt, 53, sat home and enjoyed last year, his first summer away from baseball since 1981, the year after he and his family moved to Portland. He had talked with the Padres about a minor-league job, but nothing opened up. 'I missed being around the guys, but I didn't miss going to the park every day,' he says.
This year, jobs opened with the Beavers when the Padres opted not to retain manager Rick Sweet and made Rob Deer roving minor-league hitting instructor.
Colbert, who managed at Double-A Mobile (Ala.) the past two years, became the Bevos' skipper. 'It wound up being a great situation for me,' Sandt says. 'I didn't call anyone else. At this stage, I want to work with people I like,' singling out Padre executives Ted Simmons and Bill Bryk.
Sandt hasn't spent much time around Colbert, 38, yet. 'I know they call him 'Dewey,' ' he says. 'I'm getting to know him.'
Sandt coached in the minors briefly in 2000 as roving instructor for Pittsburgh. His last full-time gig in the bush came in 1986 Ñ although coaching for the Pirates' Class AAA team in Hawaii 'wasn't the worst duty in the world.'
'I don't think people realize how hard staffs in the minor leagues work,' he says. 'These players are learning from the bottom up. Big league guys, you're just fine-tuning them. You need a lot more patience in the minors, and you need to put a lot more time in.'