Stottlemyre, Little Could Join Coaching Staff

Charlie Manuel insisted Thursday that coaching vacancies will have his stamp on them. He conceded - and actually, stressed - the "We, not I" concept, including in hiring coaches, but also talked about having a lot of input into the decisions of who he will work with. Don't be surprised if the picture of the coaching staff changes significantly as Manuel reaches out to people who he's familiar with.

Pitching Coach: This is perhaps the most significant position that the Phillies will need to fill. There are a couple of in-house candidates. The best known is Larry Andersen, who has been working as a broadcaster for the Phillies. Before moving to the booth, he was a minor league pitching instructor and the pitching coach at AA Reading. He is well respected among players and also brings Manuel's relaxed kind of attitude to the clubhouse.

Rich Dubee served as the pitching coach at AAA Scranton and has major league experience with Florida. Dubee spent four seasons as the Marlins' pitching coach and has worked in numerous minor league positions for the Phillies, Marlins, Expos and Royals. As a player, Dubee was originally drafted by Kansas City and pitched in the minors for six seasons, finishing his minor league career with a 45-49, 4.07 record.

Gary Ruby, the Phillies minor league pitching instructor is also a potential candidate. He is popular with many of the young pitchers he has worked with and has been credited with helping to develop some of the young pitchers in the Phillies system. Ruby has also been mentioned for positions with other organizations.

Perhaps the favorite for the job is Dick Pole. Manuel and Pole worked together with Cleveland when Pole served as Manuel's pitching coach while they were both with the Indians. One potential snag is that Pole is currently working as the bench coach for the Cubs, so the Phillies would have to get permission to talk to him about the job. You have to figure that Manuel will look to add at least one familiar face and if he had to choose, Pole might be the one he would look for.

An intriguing candidate is Yankees' pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre. Word is that Stottlemyre is considering stepping down as the Yanks pitching boss and might entertain offers from other clubs. Stottlemyre is well respected among baseball and the Phillies will probably at least ask about his situation. It would be an interesting choice because Todd Stottlemyre, Mel's son, had a war of words with the Phillies and their fans during the '93 World Series, when he was a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Hitting Coach: Technically, the job still belongs to Greg Gross. At Thursday's press conference though, Manuel didn't seem to give any of the coaches a vote of confidence. Gross has been maligned by the media and the fans and is hanging in limbo. It's very possible that he could be reassigned within the organization, possibly to a scouting or minor league position.

It's hard to know who the front runner might be here. Don Long has been a Phillies roving minor league hitting instructor and has impressed the organization. He's not well known, but has a pretty long minor league coaching resume. Before joining the Phillies, Long coached for 12 seasons in the Angels organization, including working as a minor league manager. As a manager, he led two different teams to league championships.

Another familiar name is Jeff Manto. The former Phillie also played for Manuel in Cleveland. Manto has worked as a minor league hitting instructor for the Pirates and has developed a solid reputation around baseball. Again, familiarity might be a key for Manuel, so Manto has to be considered on the list.

The most interesting name might be Charley Lau, Jr. The son of one of the more famous of all hitting gurus, Lau has been running a private hitting camp in Florida. A few organizations have looked at Lau as a hitting coach in the past, but haven't gone too far in their consideration of him. He's a long-shot, but an interesting name to have in the mix. Speaking of private hitting instructors, Comcast analyst John Marzano has openly admitted that he would like a coaching job with the club. Marzano played for Manuel in the Indians' minor league system, but that was for just a one month period. Marzano would be considered a very long shot to get much consideration for the job.

Bench Coach: Again, the job is technically filled by Gary Varsho. Again though, keep in mind that Manuel will put his stamp on the staff. Varsho is well respected by the organization and doesn't have to worry about having a job. The Phillies will likely insist that he at least stay on the staff even if it's not as bench coach. There could be some shuffling that would put Varsho either at the third base coaching job or the first base coaching job. One thing is certain; the Phillies have room for one more coach somewhere with the team.

If Varsho is moved to the first base coaching box, Milt Thompson would either move to third base or serve as Manuel's bench coach. Even if Varsho does stay on as bench coach, Thompson could still move to the other side of the diamond, replacing John Vukovich.

Don't completely count out Marc Bombard for a spot on Manuel's coaching staff. The two are seen as being very similar in nature and the Phillies wouldn't mind giving Bombard a promotion. It was surprising that he didn't get at least an interview for the manager's job, but should at least be mentioned for a major league coaching position.

Grady Little, who was interviewed for the manager's job, told the Phillies that he would consider a coaching job on Manuel's staff. Little served as Manuel's bench coach in Cleveland, so keep the familiarity factor in mind. Many people around baseball believe that Little is best suited for a coaching position and not for a job as a major league manager. The Phillies were impressed with Little when they interviewed him and likely wouldn't mind having him on the staff.

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