From left to right: Former Phillies manager Larry Bowa, pitching coach Rich Dubee, third base coach Juan Samuel. (AP)
Now that Ryne Sandberg is officially the manager of the Phillies for the 2014 season (see story), the evaluation process can begin. Though it’s an ongoing process for the players, the Phillies’ coaching staff could take a different shape next season.
Asked about his future coaching staff during Sunday morning’s press conference to announce his newly signed three-year contract, Sandberg praised the current group of coaches.
“First of all, we have very qualified and professional and very good coaches right now in the coaches’ room,” Sandberg said. “[General manager Ruben Amaro Jr.] and I will have some conversations and discussions on that and we’re going to do that collectively and come up with a hard-working staff that I’ll be comfortable with and will do a good job.”
But Amaro says putting together a coaching staff for the 2014 season is a priority for the Phillies headed into the offseason.
“Putting together a quality coaching staff that can support Ryne and support the organization, I think that will be a priority for us,” Amaro said.
So expect changes or additions to come quickly. One such change coach be with pitching coach Rich Dubee, who is in the last year of his contract and has been Charlie Manuel’s right-hand man for nine seasons. As such, the organization could be looking for a fresh voice to work with the pitching staff.
A few names to keep an eye on as a possible pitching coach for 2014 are Rod Nichols, the Phillies’ bullpen coach and former minor-league pitching coach with the organization. Nichols has a great rapport with many of the Phillies pitchers and it was not uncommon to hear pitchers sing the praises of the quiet and unassuming Nichols.
Another candidate could be longtime big-league pitching coach, Dick Pole, who was not only close with former manager Charlie Manuel, but was also pitching coach with the Cubs when Sandberg was a player.
Sandberg might push for former Phillies’ manager Larry Bowa to join the staff as a bench coach, third base coach or first base coach. Bowa and Sandberg are close and have had a relationship going back to Sandberg’s rookie season when the pair were traded together by the Phillies to the Cubs before the 1982 season.
Juan Samuel, another close friend with Sandberg since they were both coming up in the minors with the Phillies, could return, as well as catching coach, Mick Billmeyer. Hitting coaches Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner have also received good reviews.
Ex-Phillie Bob Dernier along with former big leaguer, Doug Dascenzo, could be a candidate for a coaching position, too. Dernier, another former teammate of Sandberg in the Phillies’ minor-league system and with the Cubs, was Chicago’s first base coach in 2011.
Dascenzo is currently working as the Braves’ minor-league base running and outfielding coordinator and had managed in the Padres’ system.