Phillies Shuffle Their Coaching Staff

With the firing of manager Larry Bowa, there were bound to be changes in the coaching ranks. The Phillies announced those changes, although a couple moves will need to wait until a new manager is hired to make them official. On a related note, interviews of managerial candidates could start as soon as next week.

John Vukovich will see his run of 17 consecutive seasons in a Phillies' uniform come to an end next spring. The third base coach has been told that he won't hold that spot next season, but has been offered a job in the Phillies' front office.

This past season established "Vuke" as the longest running major league coach in the history of the franchise.

General manager Ed Wade offered Vukovich a position as a special assistant to the general manager, an offer that Vukovich said he will consider. However, Vukovich also left open the possibility of finding a coaching position elsewhere for next season.

Pitching coach Joe Kerrigan told the Phillies not to make any decision on him and decided instead to leave the organization. It's likely that Kerrigan will either wind up working for another organization or return to work as an analyst, possibly for ESPN.

Perhaps the most maligned of the Phillies coaching staff, hitting coach Greg Gross, will need to wait to officially learn his fate. The decision on Gross returning will rest with the new manager. Wade said that the Phillies needed to create some flexibility on their coaching staff for the new manager and will leave it up to whoever is hired to determine Gross' fate.

Bench coach Gary Varsho, first base coach Milt Thompson, bullpen coach Ramon Henderson and catching instructor Mick Billmeyer have all been retained for next season. It's possible that one of them could be put into the third base coaching position if the new manager decides to do so.

As for the hunt for a new manager, Wade said that he got started on that yesterday, seeking permission to talk with some people employed by other clubs. He also said officially that Charlie Manuel, a hitting instructor in the Phillies organization and former manager of the Cleveland Indians, will be interviewed for the job. Wade declined to mention any others who may be asked to interview, but it's thought that AAA manager Marc Bombard may be added to the list.

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