Morandini's three boys - Jordan, Griffin and Braydon - are now 16, 14 and 10, and he knew if he waited too long, he might be too old to get back into the game. Besides, he was bitten hard by the coaching bug during a four-year stint as the head coach at Valparaiso High School in Indiana.
"I never thought about managing or coaching when I was playing," Morandini said. "But a year or so after I retired [in 2000], I realized I enjoyed teaching kids. I thought I'd get back in as a scout or roving instructor, but when I started coaching high school I enjoyed not only the teaching but also the situational part of it and how you can win or lose a ball game that way."
Morandini, 44, made his goal clear. He wants to one day work in the big leagues again, and he would not mind if it was as a manager.
"Yeah, absolutely, I would like to climb the ladder again," he said. "Hopefully, one day I'll be wearing a big-league uniform again and be on a big-league field."
That goal is far off right now, but the timing of Morandini's return could actually benefit him in the long run. Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg is the team's triple-A manager and at the moment would seem to be the most likely successor to Charlie Manuel among the team's minor-league managers.
Mark Parent, at double-A Reading, Dusty Wathan, at single-A Clearwater, and Chris Truby at single-A Lakewood are also highly regarded by front-office officials.
Despite prolonged negotiations on a contract extension, Manuel figures to be around at least two more years beyond this one and possibly longer.
By the time he's ready to step aside, it's possible Sandberg and some of the others will have moved on, particularly if big-league offers come from other organizations.
Morandini isn't worried about any of that. He's using the same philosophy Boston manager Terry Francona applied during his climb up the minor-league managerial ladder.
"You shouldn't rush the process," Francona said. "I think sometimes you get so worried about getting to the big leagues, and being a minor-league manager should be some of the most fun days of your life. You're dealing with the young kids that are so fun, and you have a chance to learn how you really feel about the game without worrying about ESPN and all the other stuff. It's a great way to learn, and it is some of my best memories of baseball. I loved it."
Francona was one of many managers and coaches who influenced Morandini. He said Jim Fregosi, Larry Bowa and the late John Vukovich also molded his baseball personality by being stern teachers who also knew how to nurture his talent.
"I'm very intense when I coach," Morandini said. "It's not to the point where I'm screaming and yelling, but I'm really into the game. You'll see me pacing a lot. I have a lot of nervous energy."
Morandini said he is already enjoying working with the Phillies' young kids, many of whom will be part of his first Williamsport team when the Crosscutters open their season in mid-June. Until then, he'll remain in Clearwater as part of the extended spring training staff.
"I'm sure opening day in Williamsport will be pretty nerve-racking, but we have a good three months of games to get under our belt here first," Morandini said. "I'm learning a lot from a good group of coaches here. Like players, managers go through growing pains."
Morandini went through his share as a player. He was often the outcast among the Macho Row personalities that fueled the 1993 run to the World Series, but he eventually earned the respect of his teammates that year and went on to a solid big-league career that included a sensational 1998 season with the Chicago Cubs.
"I like this challenge," Morandini said. "I've gone through a lot of challenges in my career. There were a lot of times people doubted my ability."
And Morandini undeniably made the most of his ability, something he will try to do again now that he's a manager.
Inside the Phillies:
Mickey Morandini takes reins as single-A manager. E3.
Still no prognosis on injured Utley. E3.
Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or email@example.com.