The manager chuckled.
"I might say that to 25 or 35 guys in the locker room," he said. "They might all get the same message. He'll be one of the guys to hear that."
Asche did not start Wednesday for the second straight day. He entered the day 1 for his last 18. He pinch-hit in the seventh inning and struck out. Sandberg saw a young player worn down by the six-month grind. Asche, after all, was playing college ball at Nebraska two years ago.
The Phillies possess no other clear candidate for third base. The free-agent market is barren, like last winter's. Top prospect Maikel Franco emerged with a superb season, but has yet to play above double A. Franco could push his timetable with a big spring. The Phillies shifted Franco to first base near the end of the minor-league season, which opens another possibility.
For now, the job is Asche's to lose.
"He's proven defensively he can play third base," Sandberg said. "And I think his bat has played. He's shown a good steady bat. I think down the stretch it's turned into a little bit of a long season for him possibly. I understand that. But the work ethic and the quality swing for a young guy like that is pretty good."
Ryan Howard will rejoin the team for the season's final four games in Atlanta to participate in pregame practices, Sandberg said. Howard, recovering from July knee surgery, requested the trip. He has played simulated games in the Florida instructional league.
"It'll be good to see him in Atlanta doing pregame work and actually taking batting practice and ground balls and running the bases," Sandberg said. "That'll be a good thing to see him for four days. Be able to have a pretty good gauge on him then."
Ben Revere, recovering from a broken right foot, will leave Florida on Friday and begin his offseason. The outfielder passed medical and game tests while playing in the instructional league, Sandberg said.