Ryno charging into action as special spring coach for Cubs

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Ryne Sandberg with former teammate Rick Sutcliffe (and Hall of Famer Billy Williams, not in uniform) Monday morning in Mesa.

MESA, Ariz. – Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, recently hired as a Cubs ambassador, visited camp last month as a civilian but returned in uniform Monday as a special assistant to the field staff.

When hired in January, Sandberg said he didn’t expect to do the instructor gig in spring training but changed his mind after being invited. He’s not on a formal schedule.

“It’s going to be a blast to have him around,” manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ll definitely rely on what he has to say.”

Sandberg, who is in the process of moving back to the Chicago area from Arizona, is not working on a formal schedule or timeline in camp, or with any specific duties – beyond hanging out with former Cubs teammate Rick Sutcliffe.

“I’d love for him to just be talking with the middle infielders primarily,” Maddon said. “If he wants to talk to the hitters I’m in on that, too.”

Notes: Injured outfielder Matt Szczur (oblique) took a second day of swings from a tee, and said he’s improving. “It’s just a slow progression,” said Szczur, who’s been sidelined more than two weeks. … Hitting coach John Mallee was hit on the arm by K.C.’s Alex Gordon‘s line foul ball in the first inning while sitting on the warning track with other coaches. He left to have the arm iced but did not appear to be hurt seriously. … Miguel Montero, who started his spring 5-for-5, grounded out in his first at-bat Monday against the Rockies.

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