The bus rides are going to be a lot longer, but Mickey Morandini isn't going to mind.
The former Philadelphia Phillies second baseman has accepted the manager's position with the organization's A team in Williamsport, Pa., having resigned as the Valparaiso High School baseball coach in the process.
"I'm gonna miss it. I had fun. I really enjoyed working with the kids," Morandini said. "But this is an opportunity to do some good things at the professional level, and it's something I couldn't pass up. I'm excited about it. I know the owner and G.M. very well. It's a great, family-owned organization that's always taken care of its past players. Its minor-league system is very well-run. I'm excited to be a part of it again."
Morandini discussed the offer with his family and accepted it after they gave their thumbs up. They will continue to live in Porter County.
"Part of the reason I didn't do it earlier was I wanted to see my children grow up and coach them," he said. "I've done that almost the last eight years. (The Phillies) contact me almost every year since I retired. I told them I wanted to eventually get back in it. I'm not getting any younger, so I figured this was a good time to do it."
The players at Williamsport, a low-A affiliate, won't be too much older than Morandini's squads at Valpo. The roster is comprised of draft picks and players who don't make the other A teams. Morandini will head to Florida for spring training and return north when the season starts.
"I love to manage," he said. "I love all the little things that go into teaching kids. Hopefully, I can work my way up through the system kind of like 'Ryno' (Ryne Sandberg) and get back to the big leagues some day."
Morandini coached at Valpo for four years.
"I'm broken-hearted over it," Valparaiso AD Sam Rasmussen said. "You couldn't find a better coach and certainly not a better individual. He's done a fantastic job. I think our program was strong. He was teaching young men good values. It's a loss to us. But I understand the opportunity he's going to. You have to do what's best for yourself and your family. That's where the decision really lies."
The process to hire a new coach at Valpo begins immediately.
"That's the way athletics is," Rasmussen said. "Things have already started with conditioning, weight lifting. We'll move on as quick as we can."