Samuel returns to Phillies as third-base coach

Samuel returns to Phillies as third-base coach

PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel stopped his car somewhere atop a mountain in North Carolina on Thursday to talk about changes to the Phillies' coaching staff.

He kept his signal the entire time.

Juan Samuel, who spoke about his new job with the Phillies during the same conference call, briefly lost his signal while on the phone in the Dominican Republic.

But when they were on the line, they talked about Samuel becoming the team's third-base coach and outfield instructor. Sam Perlozzo, who coached third base the past two seasons, will move to first base and handle baserunning and infield instruction. They join pitching coach Rich Dubee, hitting coach Greg Gross, bench coach Pete Mackanin and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer on the 2011 staff.

"There couldn't be a better place for me to come back to," said Samuel, a three-time National League All-Star who played for the Phillies from 1983-89 and was inducted into the organization's Wall of Fame in 2008. "Things started there."

Davey Lopes served as first-base coach from 2007-10, but he left the Phillies when the two parties could not agree on a new contract. There was some thought that Samuel could move to first base, where he would handle outfield and baserunning duties. Samuel stole 396 bases in his career.

Manuel shuffled things around instead.

"We lined up better with Sammy coaching first and baserunning instructor and infield instructor," Manuel said. "A lot of duties for both guys, but I know both of them will do a tremendous job. Sammy was real excited about coaching baserunning again."

Perlozzo was the baserunning instructor when the Reds won the World Series in 1990.

But because Lopes received so much praise for his job as a baserunning coach -- Manuel said that Lopes was "the best basestealing coach I've been around" -- Samuel's hiring and Perlozzo's move to first has received an unusual amount of attention. The Phillies set a Major League record in 2007, successfully stealing 87.9 percent (138-for-157) of their bases. They also led the Majors in stolen-base percentage in 2008 (84.5 percent), '09 (81.0 percent) and '10 (83.7 percent).

"But I'd like to point out we still need help with breaks and leads, the fundamental part in running the bases," Manuel said. "Also, turns. There's a lot of area that we can still improve on. When I talked to Sammy, he was excited about doing that. That definitely kind of played into my decision. Knowing Sammy, as hard a worker as he is and a teacher ... I think Sammy got his motor running again. Not that he needed it, but I think our baserunning is going to be fine."

Perlozzo said he is excited about the opportunity.

"To come in on the heels of Davey Lopes is a big task, but almost every year I've coached, I was the baserunning coach," Perlozzo said. "I take it very seriously. It's more than basestealing for me. Baserunning is more than just basestealing. And those are things I can really help out with. I've coached third for a long time, so I know what I'm looking for. I know what it takes for guys to score runs. It's a real challenge, and a fun thing. It's one thing that's overlooked by a lot of people. I look at it as making good turns, getting good leads, getting good jumps."

Perlozzo coached Samuel when he played for the Mets and hired Samuel to be his third-base coach when he managed the Orioles. They know each other well, which could help the Phillies during the season.

"I always felt, as a third-base coach, that a good first-base coach can be a tremendous asset," Perlozzo said. "There are times when you can help runners to get leads. What to do on a base hit. What the third-base coach is thinking."

There were indications Samuel would return to Baltimore as their third-base coach, but the sides never finalized a deal and the Phillies wooed him to Philadelphia.

Samuel hit .259 with 161 home runs and 703 RBIs in 1,720 games for the Phillies, Mets, Dodgers, Royals, Reds, Tigers and Blue Jays. He remains popular in Philadelphia, despite the fact he has not been in a Phillies uniform in more than 20 years.

"I'm joining an elite group of coaches and manager," Samuel said. "It's like a dream come true. I said I might end up back there at some point. I didn't expect it to be so soon."

Samuel is the 34th man in franchise history to both play and coach for the Phillies.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.