Sandberg Humble; Ordonez Could Be In Cubs' Plans

Cubs spring training instructor Ryne Sandberg kicked off the New Year by being named to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 4.<p> "Maybe this will be the start of a special year for the Cubs," Sandberg said.

It took three tries, but the longtime Cubs second baseman finally made it and was relieved and grateful.

"I learned a long time ago there are no guarantees in the game of baseball," Sandberg said. "There have been some tremendous, tremendous players who have waited longer than I had to wait to get into the Hall of Fame. I don't think that it's ever too late. If you wait 15 years or make it in your first year, once you're in, I think you're a Hall of Famer.

"I don't think it diminishes the honor at all. You're either in the Hall of Fame or you're not. I'm just totally happy."

The 44-year-old Sandberg played a few late season games with Philadelphia in 1981 and was traded to the Cubs, where he opened his career at third base before settling in at second.

Sandberg owned a lifetime .285 average with 282 homers and 1,061 RBIs. He nailed 277 of those home runs as a second basemen, which was a major league record at that position until Jeff Kent broke it in 2004.

The Spokane, Wash., native played in 10 All-Star games, won nine Gold Glove awards and once had a 123-game errorless streak. He owned a .989 fielding percentage at second base, which is the best mark in the big leagues at that position.

"I think it was said that I had tremendous range when I played and I was very quick," Sandberg said on those who criticized him for not diving for enough balls during his career. "I got to balls behind second base and I got to balls behind first basemen. I used my range to make plays for balls that I didn't have to dive for.

"To dive for no reason when you can't get an out or prevent a run at home is, to me, not worth anything. But anytime there was a man in scoring position and there was a diving opportunity to keep the ball in the infield, I was taught that at a young age. You have to do that."

BY THE NUMBERS: 2—The number of Hall of Fame players in major league history who wore No. 23 during their playing career. Sandberg became the second when he was voted into the Hall.

Cubs Eyeing Ordonez?

Ordonez would prefer to stay in Chicago (AP Photo)
Free agent OF Magglio Ordonez could be in the Cubs' plans for an outfield spot if they are convinced he is healthy enough to do the job after undergoing two knee surgeries in 2004.

Ordonez indicated he would like to stay in the city of Chicago after enjoying a successful career with the White Sox.

Whether he will accept a one-year deal laden with incentives - a la SS Nomar Garciaparra - is something he will have to decide.

Ordonez is represented by agent Scott Boras.

Former Cubs Find New Homes

2B Mark Grudzielanek, who hit .312 in two seasons with the Cubs, signed a one-year deal with St. Louis.

INF Ramon Martinez signed a one-year deal with Detroit on Jan. 4. Martinez was a handy backup in 2003 and 2004 for the Cubs but was replaced by Jose Macias and Neifi Perez.

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