How can Phils improve rotation for 2014?
Roger McDowell elected to stay with the Braves by agreeing to a two-year contract extension as pitching coach. (AP)
A candidate for the Phillies’ pitching coach job went off the board Saturday when Roger McDowell decided to remain with the Atlanta Braves.
McDowell, Atlanta’s pitching coach since 2006, drew interest from the Phillies when his contract with the Braves expired Thursday. In the end, he opted to stay with Atlanta and was given a two-year contract extension.
The Phillies’ pitching coach job has been open since the end of September when Rich Dubee’s contract was not renewed after nine seasons on the job. According to a source, Dubee would have been a strong candidate for the Braves’ pitching coach job had McDowell jumped to the Phillies. The source said Dubee could still end up working for the Braves as a roving minor-league pitching coach in 2014.
The Phillies, led by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., have conducted a methodical search for a pitching coach. This is clearly an important hire for Amaro (see story).
Early in the process, the Phillies targeted Bryan Price, the former Seattle and Cincinnati pitching coach, but he was hired as the Reds’ manager.
A person with knowledge of the situation said Saturday that the Phillies seriously pursued Pete Vuckovich, the former Pittsburgh Pirates pitching coach and 1982 American League Cy Young winner, but he removed his name from consideration.
The Phillies have interviewed in-house candidates Rod Nichols and Ray Burris for the job. Nichols, a longtime pitching coach in the Phils’ minor-league system, was the team’s bullpen coach in 2013. Burris was the organization’s Triple-A pitching coach in 2013.
Reid Cornelius, Miami’s bullpen coach, and Neil Allen, Tampa Bay’s Triple-A pitching coach, were interviewed, but both are no longer under consideration, according to sources.
The Phils have interviewed Jim Benedict, a pitching instructor from the Pirates organization. Word is he impressed team officials in his interview.
Amaro has been tight-lipped about his search for a pitching coach. It is unknown if he will interview any other candidates.
McDowell isn't the only Braves coach that the Phillies showed interest in this fall. The Phils made a run at hiring Doug Dascenzo, a baserunning/outfield coach in the Atlanta system, but the Braves responded by promoting him to their big-league staff. Dascenzo is a close friend and former teammate of Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.