Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 5, 2009

Rays return

Sandberg returns as manager

PRINCETON — It’s a long way — in more ways than just miles — from Princeton’s Hunnicutt Field to Tropicana Field in Tampa, Fla.

Most minor league baseball players who start their careers with the Princeton Rays never achieve their dreams of playing in the major leagues.

Yet, it can be done. Just ask Jared Sandberg. He hopes his players do.

“I played in Princeton, I went up through the Rays’ ladder and made it to the big leagues and had some limited success there,” said Sandberg, whose uncle is Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg. “I’ve had a couple of players ask me, ‘Did you play?’

“Obviously I’m not a household name, maybe the last name. They don’t know who I am and they’re going to have to ask questions, but once they realize I played here in Princeton and I played very well and moved through the ranks, I think there will be a certain respect.”

Sandberg was the guest of honor on Thursday as the Princeton Rays held their annual “Media Appreciation Luncheon.” Sandberg, who flew in from Seattle the previous day, was joined by Rays’ General Manager Jim Holland and Appalachian League president Lee Landers.

Despite several inches of snow laying on the ground and temperatures hovering around 20, Sandberg was thinking baseball as he slipped on one of the brand new jerseys that will be worn by the ‘09 Rays.

“It always feels good to put on a baseball uniform, even when there is snow on the ground,” Sandberg said. “I have taken pride in putting on a baseball uniform for 13 years now and what better way to start my managerial career than to come back to Princeton. I’m very excited for the opportunity...”

Sandberg is back where his professional baseball career began. Sandberg was the Appalachian League Player of the Year in 1997. He reached Tampa Bay in 2001 and remained there for three seasons. He spent the next three years bouncing around the minors before an eye disease forced him into retirement.

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