FORT MYERS, Fla. -- At this time last year, the Red Sox were the ones preparing to put an overwhelmingly disappointing season behind them. Boston was coming off a last-place finish in the American League East in 2012 when the Sox went just 69-93 -- their worst record since 1965.
Just a little more than seven months later, the Red Sox celebrated their third World Series title in the last 10 seasons.
It's with that in mind that Phillies skipper Ryne Sandberg was looking at Saturday night's Grapefruit League opponent as an inspiration for his own club. Philadelphia has missed the postseason each of the last two seasons, after winning the National League East five straight years from 2007-11. But Sandberg is hoping to guide the club back to the playoffs in his first full season at the helm.
"It can happen that quickly with some new faces, with guys having good years, with some surprise years from guys," Sandberg said. "And then getting on a roll to get the magical wins or luck games, whatever you want to call them. All those things can come together quickly."
For the defending World Series champion Red Sox, improved pitching and health keyed a 28-win improvement from 2012 to '13. Like the Phillies are hoping to do this season, the Red Sox made their turnaround while mostly keeping together their long-time core players.
"A season like they had," Sandberg said, "it makes a lot of teams optimistic, including ourselves."
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less