Sandberg wants pitching, improved OF defense

Sandberg wants pitching, improved OF defense

Salisbury on Halladay retiring and needs at the winter meetings

December 10, 2013, 6:00 am
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Filling out the pitching rotation behind Cliff Lee (left) and Cole Hamels remains a top priority for the Phillies this offseason. (AP)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ryne Sandberg is at the winter meetings for the first time as a big-league manager.

Sandberg is scheduled for his official session with reporters on Tuesday, but he did offer a few thoughts on the Phillies’ offseason Monday.

“I think Byrd helps our defense a notch in right field,” he said of the Phillies’ November signing of Marlon Byrd. “I think his veteran bat could possibly bat third, could bat fifth, but just to mix him in with the left-handed bats we have -- I think there's some flexibility there.

“With speed at the top with [Ben] Revere and then [Jimmy] Rollins and then [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard, Byrd, Chooch [Ruiz], there's some balance there. Hopefully he can have the type of season he had last year.”

Byrd hit .291 with 24 homers, 88 RBIs and a .511 slugging percentage (fifth-best in the NL) with the Mets and Pirates in 2013.

Throughout the later stages of the 2013 season, Sandberg continually mentioned the need to add starting pitching depth this winter.

The Phils are still looking for that (see story).

“I'd say that's a priority right now,” he said. “It'll be a concern if we're in spring training and nothing's been done about it. Starting pitching depth is something that's being looked at and looked at very seriously."

Sandberg also mentioned a desire to get more athletic in the outfield. The Phils would like to add a fourth outfielder type who can play some center field. The Phils could even look for a bigger move by trading Domonic Brown, who is available in the right move. Revere could also be had in the right deal.

On paper, the Phils' outfield would look set with Byrd, Revere and Brown, but it might not be.

"I know that some improved defense and a little bit of athleticism in the outfield is still a piece that is being looked at,” Sandberg said.