Bowa returns to Phillies to be bench coach

Bowa returns to Phillies to be bench coach

Bowa returns to Phillies to be bench coach

The Phillies made a host of changes to their coaching staff on Tuesday, highlighted by the returns of Larry Bowa and Pete Mackanin.

In addition, Steve Henderson will return as hitting coach next season while Wally Joyner has declined to return as assistant hitting coach.

The statuses of bullpen coach Rod Nichols and first/third-base coach Juan Samuel have yet to be determined but both are under consideration for the 2014 staff.

Senior vice president and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Nichols is an in-house candidate to replace former pitching coach Rich Dubee, whose contract was not renewed following the season.

Bowa, a former Phillies player, coach and manager, will serve as manager Ryne Sandberg's bench coach. The 67-year-old played shortstop for Philadelphia from 1970-81, was third-base coach from 1988-96 and managed the club from 2001-04. He has also coached for the Angels (1997-99), Mariners (2000), Yankees (2006-07) and Dodgers (2008-10) and spent a season and a half (1987-88) managing the Padres. Bowa has been an in-studio analyst for MLB Network the past three years.

Bowa and Sandberg are forever linked as the players the Phillies traded away to the Cubs in 1982 for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. The two were teammates for nearly four full seasons in Chicago, where Sandberg had his Hall of Fame career.

Sandberg said one of the positives about adding Bowa to his bench was their familiarity with one another.

"I learned a lot from him as a young player and now as a young manager, with his experience and knowledge and information, I think he'll be a terrific guy by my side," Sandberg said. "Along with just a high level of my comfort with him and with his baseball background. As a baseball man, he's top-notch."

Bowa was dismissed near the end of the Phillies' 2004 campaign, but Amaro said there were no issues within the front office about bringing him back.

"It was something we thought about, but at the end of the day Ryne's comfort level and his ability as a baseball person, his knowledge of the game, really overrode any feelings for us," Amaro said. "It was about getting the best people for Ryne and supporting him the best way. ... The fact of the matter is he's an outstanding baseball man. I think that this is not about Larry Bowa. This is about building a staff around Ryne that's going to be the most effective one."

Mackanin, another former Phillies player, is returning to the team to be its third-base coach. He spent four years (2009-12) as Phillies' bench coach under former manager Charlie Manuel, who was let go in August. Mackanin worked this past season as a pro scout for the Yankees, a post he previously held in 2008. The 62-year-old former infielder has also coached for the Montreal Expos (1997-2000) and Pirates (2003-05), and was an interim manager for both the Reds (2007) and Pirates (2005). Mackanin appeared in 18 games with the Phillies over the 1978-79 seasons during a nine-year Major League career.

Mackanin was a Minor League manager for the Cubs when Sandberg was playing for Chicago.

"I really like his experience that he has, and he's done a lot of things in the game," Sandberg said. "So that knowledge, information, experience, that will go a long way with myself this next year."

Henderson, 60, will return for his second season as hitting coach. Amaro, citing that it sometimes takes two years for players to buy into a hitting coach's philosophy, said he saw improvement from both young and veteran players as the season progressed.

"I like [Henderson's] rapport with the players," Amaro said. "He's very good during the game, talking the game, talking about adjustments to be made. So we look for more of that next year with better results."

Sandberg said Joyner's departure will be a "big loss," but added he believes Joyner was a "little overqualified" for the assistant's job and deserves an opportunity to be a head hitting coach elsewhere.

The Phillies' biggest unfilled role remains that of pitching coach. Amaro said the club is in the information-gathering process of sorting through candidates and a decision likely will take some time.

Both Amaro and Sandberg said previous experience as a Major League pitching coach is not necessarily a prerequisite.

"We're just looking for the best guy," Sandberg said. "We're looking for someone who can both handle the staff and someone we feel has the right philosophy and move this club and the organization forward."

Amaro said after multiple discussions with Manuel, an offer is on the table for the former manager to return to the organization in a different capacity.

"I think he'd help in a variety of ways and hopefully we can work it out," Amaro said. "We have made him an offer and hopefully it's something he'd be interested in doing."

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.