Gulf Coast League Phillies, Bradenton's Cord Sandberg coming to Pirate City

Former Manatee star returns to hometown as a real pro

jlembo@bradenton.comJune 26, 2013 

Cord Sandberg gets ready to hit Saturday in Dunedin during his pro debut with the Gulf Coast League Phillies.JOHN LEMBO/Bradenton Herald

BRADENTON -- Cord Sandberg is scheduled to play a baseball game Thursday in Bradenton.

No big news there.

From Little League district tournaments to roving G.T. Bray's outfield during his days as a Manatee Hurricane, Sandberg has played more baseball in Bradenton than he could possibly remember.

Thursday, however, will mark another milestone: Sandberg's first game in his hometown as a professional.

Sandberg's Gulf Coast League Phillies head to Pirate City to meet the GCL Pirates at noon. Sandberg has started the Phillies the first three games entering Tuesday.

Sandberg reported to the Phillies' GCL team after signing with the franchise earlier this month. Philadelphia made Sandberg the 89th pick of the amateur baseball draft, and the Manatee High grad chose the Phillies over a football scholarship at Mississippi State.

He made his pro debut Saturday in Dunedin, registering his first pro hit. Sandberg is 4-for-13 in three games with the Phillies.

In Dunedin on Tuesday against the GCL Tampa Yankees, he went 3-for-3, hitting his first homer as a pro, scoring two runs and stealing two bases.

He has split time between left field and center, committing no errors.

Sandberg also has hit leadoff in all three games.

Thus far, Sandberg has enjoyed the baseball expe

rience. His coaches have been letting him play, allowing Sandberg to get accustomed to pro ball before making too many wholesale changes to his game.

"I'm pretty sure we're videoing stuff, so after a certain amount of time, they'll maybe tweak some things," Sandberg said. "Right now, they're just taking notes -- strength, weakness, different things -- and a little bit later, we'll probably work on some stuff."

Sandberg had some familiar faces in the stands Saturday in Dunedin, including his brother, Chase, and his father, Chuck.

Chase and Chuck got to the game toward the end, but thanks to its length -- it went 13 innings and lasted over three hours -- they got to see Cord take a pair of at-bats.

There may be a bigger crowd Thursday, considering the game is a handful of miles from where Sandberg grew up and became a prep football and baseball star.

"I'm so busy with different things, I'm not even able to communicate with them too much throughout the day," Sandberg said. "I knew they were coming up at least for a little bit, though, and it was nice to see them (Saturday)."

The GCL Phillies make four more trips to Bradenton this summer -- July 13, July 30, Aug. 14 and Aug. 29.

The GCL Pirates are the league's defending champions and could have Pittsburgh's top draft pick on the roster by Thursday.

Reese McGuire, a catcher from Kentwood High in Washington, signed with the Pirates last week and is scheduled to report to the GCL team.

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