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Manuel to keep coaching staff intact

Manuel announces he will keep staff intact

PHILADELPHIA -- Wanting to keep a good team together, manager Charlie Manuel has announced he will bring back his entire coaching staff for the 2008 season.

The staff of Rich Dubee (pitching coach), Ramon Henderson (bullpen), Davey Lopes (first base), Steve Smith (third base), Milt Thompson (hitting), Jimy Williams (bench) and catching instructor Mick Billmeyer will try to ensure that the Phillies repeat as National League East champions.

"I couldn't be happier with the job my coaches did this year," Manuel said in a statement. "Their hard work paid off in a big way."

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Manuel said earlier this week that he wanted to retain his staff, but had to work out some details. He said there was a learning curve with some, particularly Smith, but he felt very comfortable with the group after the season.

Thompson, 48, oversaw an offense that led the NL in runs for the second straight season. The team total of 892 was the most by any Phillies club since the 1930 squad's 944-run output. The 2007 Phillies also led the NL in triples (41), walks (641), slugging percentage (.458), extra-base hits (580), total bases (2,605) and times on base (2,289), while finishing second in home runs (213).

Lopes turned the Phillies into a dangerous team on the basepaths. In his first season with the club, the 62-year-old coached the club to the best stolen-base percentage in Major League history. The team swiped 138 bases -- second to the Mets in the NL -- and was thrown out only 19 times, an 87.9 percent success rate. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino finished in the NL's top 10 in stolen bases and stolen base percentage.

Lopes also worked with the outfielders, who compiled 39 assists, tops in the NL and second in the Majors to Tampa Bay. Aaron Rowand (11), Victorino (10) and Jayson Werth (9) all finished in the top 10.

Dubee, 50, handled a club-record 28 pitchers this past season, seven of whom made their Major League debuts. The team also set a franchise record with nine different pitchers earning saves. He shepherded a staff that suffered injuries to starters Adam Eaton, Cole Hamels, Jon Lieber and Freddy Garcia and relievers Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson and Brett Myers, among others. As a team, the Phillies had a 4.73 ERA, fourth-worst in baseball.

In addition to his bench-coach duties as Manuel's second-in-command, the 64-year-old Williams mentored the pitching staff on hitting and bunting. Phillies pitchers finished fourth in the NL with 51 hits, 22 more than the 2006 squad (29), and led all NL staffs in runs scored (28).

The 44-year-old Henderson, who has become known for pitching batting practice in the All-Star Game's Home Run Derby, returns for his 11th season as a coach with the Phillies, the longest active streak in the division.

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

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