Legg is anxious to get to Clearwater, Florida February 28 to begin spring training.

"Spring training is always a lot of fun," Legg said. "It is a fresh beginning and very positive. Always my favorite time of year."

"I'm looking at having a good spring training. I'm hoping to have a lot of healthy players. I want to give a lot of kids a good look while mostly preparing for the season"

Legg, who became the 20th manager in Reading Phillies history October 16, 2001, taking over the reins of the defending Eastern League champs from Gary Varsho.

Varsho was promoted to bench coach for the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Gary Varsho did a great job with this team," said Legg. ""I've never seen Gary manage," Legg said. "I know just by watching him conduct his training, he was all business and he knew when to lighten up. He grew a lot while managing Reading."

Legg said he has grown from his playing days into a managerial role.

"Managing Reading is closer to my home. Some of the players I have already managed earlier in their careers. I asked management to put me where you need me in the organization. I am looking forward to the opportunity."

He hopes to instill his brand of play into his players.

"We will be aggressive both at the plate and on the bases, said Legg. "It is hard to say whether you have a style while managing in the minors. Your team dictates your managerial style sometimes. I was a different manager in 2000 then I was last season."

With a lot of the young talent that roamed GPU Stadium being considered for either Triple A Scranton or even the big leagues, it is difficult for Legg to determine who he will actually manage this season.

"A lot of that will have to deal with (Phillies' Assistant GM) Mike Arbuckle on who is going to be here," said Legg. "Who we are going to have back is going to be hard. It is wait and see for now. We have guys who may be in A ball or Triple A ball. It all depends. I don't have a real feel on who will be with me this season. There will be a lot of competition during spring training."

Joining the Reading Phillies coaching staff is former Phillies first baseman Rico Brogna. Legg said he is looking forward to working with Brogna.

"Without a doubt, we've had plenty of phone conversations during the winter," Legg said. "Rico is a class individual both on and off the field."

"He is such a hard worker. We got ourselves a good one and we did good just to get him."

Legg is also quite familiar with Rod Nichols, who is returning as pitching coach.

"Rod was my pitching coach down in Piedmont back in 2000," said Legg. "He knows how I manage and what I expect from a pitching staff. Rod is a true quality guy."

Despite the major acquisitions of the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves in the off-season, Legg is very optimistic about the Phillies organization's way of thinking.

"We are trying to develop within our farm system," Legg said. "That is the strength and backbone of our organization. We knew that was going to happen. I don't think they are getting people just for the sake of getting people. It is as an outstanding line-up that any team can put out there."

"I'm thrilled that we are doing it this way. Ed Wade (Philadelphia GM) is doing an excellent job."

"We have to be rich throughout the farm system. The players have to be quality young men. I only look forward to our system getting stronger. Our player development is outstanding. I think overall our organization has been making some nice moves."

Several players Legg hopes to be in Reading this season include Mark Outlaw, Nate Espy and Jorge Padilla.

"Outlaw is a quality young man," Legg said. "There is a chance he'll be with us. Espy is a really great guy. He gives everything he has everyday. Padilla is ready to make the jump to Reading. He is a fine young outfielder."

"Our main focus is to remain fundamentally sound," Legg said. "These guys should know how to play. They need to finish what they've started."

"Once they get out of Double A and into Triple A, they are right there. They are a month away from making the big leagues. It is a phone call away, although it seems like a long distance phone call away. They need to play hard and make a statement."

Legg said after a vigorous spring training, the squad will be returning from Clearwater on April 1.

For now, February 28 just can't get here soon enough for Legg.

Dennis J. Wright can be reached at dwright@phoenixvillenews.


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