Three coaches won't return to Phils

Three coaches won't return to Phils

PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel will return to manage the Phillies in 2007, but he'll be searching for three new coaches.

"[Manuel will] be back for 2007," general manager Pat Gillick said when reached by phone on Tuesday night. "We're happy with the job he did."

After Tuesday's meeting with Gillick, Manuel announced that first-base coach Marc Bombard, third-base coach Bill Dancy and bench coach Gary Varsho wouldn't have their contracts renewed for 2007. Bombard and Dancy had been handpicked by Manuel when he was named manager for the 2005 season, whereas Varsho was a holdover from previous manager Larry Bowa.

"This was something we discussed within the organization," Gillick said without elaborating on why the three were let go. "The decision was really with Charlie. After two years, he just decided he wanted to make some changes to the coaching staff."

Manuel was unavailable for comment. His job has come under scrutiny since Gillick replaced Ed Wade as general manager after last season. The 62-year-old skipper has a 173-151 record in his two seasons, and the Phillies came close to the playoffs in each of those two seasons. He has one season remaining on a three-year, $2.4 million contract, and is well liked by his players.

On the final day of the season, Gillick praised his manager but stopped just short of guaranteeing that he'd be back.

"I think overall that Charlie has done a very good job, because one of the things that I think is very, very important is that he keeps the players in a right frame of mind to go out there day in and day out," Gillick said on Sunday. "I think that's very important. I think he keeps players in a great state of mind."

Dancy, who has been with the Phillies for 32 of the last 34 years -- serving as a Minor League player, coach, manager and coordinator, and Major League coach -- was offered a position in the Phillies organization.

"I really appreciate what Marc, Bill and Gary did for the organization, but at this time, we felt it was necessary to make some changes," Manuel said in a statement released by the team.

The other members of Manuel's staff -- pitching coach Rich Dubee, batting coach Milt Thompson, bullpen coach Ramon Henderson and catching instructor Mick Billmeyer -- had their contracts extended through next season. Dubee returns for his third season as pitching coach; Thompson for his fourth season, third as batting coach; and Billmeyer for his fourth as catching instructor.

Henderson returns for his 10th season as bullpen coach. He's tenure is now the longest in the National League East, after the dismissals on Tuesday of Atlanta's Pat Corrales and Bobby Dews.

A list of possible coaching replacements includes former Phillie Juan Samuel, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre skipper John Russell and Cubs bench coach Dick Pole. Samuel coached first base and third base for the Tigers before spending 2006 managing the Double-A Binghamton Mets. Pole, a close friend of Manuel's, might be looking for work in the wake of Dusty Baker's dismissal.

Others may take a while, as the Phillies may have to seek permission to speak with potential candidates, and some of those candidates are participating in the postseason.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.