PHILADELPHIA -- It certainly looks and feels like Ryne Sandberg has a problem percolating in the Phillies' clubhouse.
Cole Hamels became the latest player to express his frustrations about Sandberg, when he pulled Hamels from Tuesday's game in the eighth inning. Hamels looked disgusted as Sandberg approached and handed him the ball as he walked off the mound. Hamels made a point after the game to sidestep questions about Sandberg.
Sandberg recently met with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan following comments they made regarding playing time. A week earlier in San Francisco, he met with Kyle Kendrick after he nearly left the mound before Sandberg could remove him from a game. Sandberg had closed-door meetings with Ryan Howard last month following his announcement he wanted to see others play more at first base, saying he could not care less about Howard's salary because he wanted to win games. Sandberg benched Jimmy Rollins in Spring Training, but ruffled feathers when he offered a "no comment" when asked about Rollins' energy and influence in the clubhouse.
"I just deal with it and have conversations," Sandberg said Wednesday.
Does he feel he has a good handle on the clubhouse?
"Yes," he said. "Yeah."
But sources said some players are frustrated, either with how Sandberg handles the game or how he handles players. Of course, much of this has to do with losing. Problems fade on winning teams. They fester and grow on losing ones.
So is there a good or bad relationship between players and manager?
"There are those relationships, then there are relationships that work themselves out," Rollins said. "First year, figuring each other out. And that's all you can do. You play ball, you figure out their style. Some things you're going to agree with. Some things you're not. Different personalities bring different questioning.
"[Former manager Charlie Manuel] was such a happy guy. He said what he meant, so you knew where he stood when he answered the media. Then things he chose not to talk about [publicly], you wouldn't know. Then you've got the complete opposite of a guy, who's very introverted. You're not quite sure when he answers questions what you're going to get. That brings another set of questions.
"It's growing pains. The first year is a tough one, especially when you're losing. It's tough. It doesn't matter who the manager is. If you're losing, you're pulling guys out, they're going to be upset. That's just the honest truth. But other than that, going from 9 1/2 years of one guy to a new guy, it's an adjustment for everybody."
Phillies right fielder Marlon Byrd said he does not see a disconnect or lack of communication between the players and Sandberg.
"It is really up to the veteran guys to make sure there is communication that is getting back to the manager," Byrd said. "So if there is a disconnect, it's not the manager's fault. It's the veterans' fault. We try. Chase [Utley], Jimmy, Ryan. Ryne had the conversation with Ryan as far as playing time and all that. I've talked to Dom. I've said, 'Have a conversation with us or go and talk to Sandberg.' There's not a disconnect, but it may seem like it because of comments. It's frustration of their job. If it looks like it's a distrust or hate toward the manager, it's perceived incorrectly."
Byrd said he thinks "the relationship is great" between players and manager.
"Motivation is good. That's us. Communication is good. That's us," Byrd said. "It's not him. That's the way I perceive it. That's the way I look at it, and that's my opinion. Other guys might have different opinions."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.