Results tagged ‘ Rod Nichols ’

Phillies Hire Pitching Coach McClure

mcclureThe Phillies finally have a pitching coach.

More than seven weeks since they told Rich Dubee he would not be back next season, they announced this afternoon they have hired Bob McClure.

They also announced Rod Nichols will return as bullpen coach and Jesus Tiamo will return as bullpen catcher.

The Phillies interviewed at least 12 candidates for the pitching coach vacancy and previously offered the job to Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell and Pirates special assistant to the general manager Jim Benedict. Both declined. They also interviewed Randy St. Claire, Rafael Chaves, Carl Willis, Pete Vuckovich, Reid Cornelius, Ray Burris, Neil Allen, Jeff Pico and Nichols.

McClure, 61, pitched 19 seasons in the big leagues with the Royals, Brewers, Expos, Mets, Angels, Cardinals and Marlins. He was Royals pitching coach from 2006-11 and Red Sox pitching coach in 2012, although he did not last the season because of differences with former manager Bobby Valentine.

The Phillies still plan on hiring somebody to replace assistant hitting coach Wally Joyner, who left the organization in October, returning a couple weeks later only to leave again recently for the Tigers head hitting coach job.

Pitching Coach Search Continues …

While the Red Sox and Cardinals play in the World Series, the Phillies continue their search for a pitching coach to replace Rich Dubee.

Bryan Price had been atop their list, but the Reds recently named him manager. The Phillies have interviewed at least five candidates: Phillies bullpen coach Rod Nichols, Marlins bullpen coach Reid Cornelius, Pirates special assistant to the general manager Jim Benedict, Triple-A Lehigh Valley pitching coach Ray Burris and Neil Allen, who is the pitching coach for Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate.

“We’re still talking to people,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We’re doing our due diligence.”

Amaro said they still could interview others candidates.

Sources earlier this week told MLB.com the Phillies could make contact with Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell. He has been invited to return to Atlanta next season, but he has not signed his contract. It is expected to arrive before the end of the month, but once his agreement for 2013 ends the Phillies can contact him.

McDowell Possibility for Pitching Coach?

Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee interviewed today for the Orioles pitching coach vacancy.

Meanwhile, the Phillies continue to search for his replacement.

Two candidates to interview are Rod Nichols, who served as Phillies bullpen coach this season, and Marlins bullpen coach Reid Cornelius, which the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. It also is likely they have interviewed Triple-A pitching coach Ray Burris. But here is an interesting name to watch: Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell. Sources indicated Tuesday the Phillies could approach McDowell about their vacancy.

McDowell has been invited to return to Atlanta next season, but he has not received or signed a contract. It is expected to arrive before his agreement for the 2013 season ends at the end of the month, but that could leave an opening for the Phillies to jump in.

McDowell, who pitched for the Phillies from 1989-91, has been Atlanta’s pitching coach the past eight seasons. The Braves had several notable injuries to their pitching staff this season, but still posted a big-league best 3.18 ERA. Braves pitchers and catchers routinely praise McDowell.

“We’re still working through it,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week about the pitching coach search. “We’re still doing our due diligence. We’ve seen a few we’ve really liked, but we’re continuing the search. We’re still working through candidates.”

McDowell, if approached, would be a big one.

Billmeyer Won’t Be Back

billmeyerThe Phillies announced today that long-time coach Mick Billmeyer will not be back next season.

Billmeyer might not have been the most high-profile coach on the big-league staff, but his presence loomed large in the clubhouse. Earlier this week, the Phillies announced pitching coach Rich Dubee will not return. It could lead to bullpen coach Rod Nichols being promoted to pitching coach, or the Phillies could go outside the organization to fill the spot.

Billmeyer joined the organization in 2000 as the Minor League catching coordinator before he joined former manager Larry Bowa’s staff as catching instructor in 2004. He served that role five seasons before he became bullpen coach in 2009. He held that position four seasons before the Phillies moved him into the dugout as catching coach this year.

Billmeyer, 49, was one of the most well-liked people in the clubhouse and organization because of his high-energy personality, positivity and sense of humor. It actually is why the Phillies moved him into the dugout this season.

Besides his regular duties, he simply had a knack for knowing when to keep things loose in the clubhouse. The Astros swept the Phillies in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park in Aug. 2010 to drop them three games out of first place in the National League East. The Phillies then flew to San Diego to open a seven-game road trip. Billmeyer, sensing the team was down and tight, had players rolling on the ground before the series opener at PETCO Park, impersonating pitchers’ mannerisms on the mound.

The Phillies swept the series and finished the season 27-8.

Sure, it might have been coincidental, but he frequently brought levity to the clubhouse when it needed it.

Manager Ryne Sandberg must fill the coaching spots vacated by Dubee, Billmeyer and himself. He had been third base coach before the Phillies fired Charlie Manuel in August.

Sandberg’s Journey Back

I had a chance to speak with Ryne Sandberg earlier today about his journey back to the big leagues.

It took him six years of managing in the minors before the Phillies hired him as third base coach. That seemed like a long time to a lot of people: Hall of Fame second baseman can’t get a job in the big leagues? What’s up with that? But Sandberg sounded like a patient guy who had no trouble paying his dues. He is well aware there are plenty more coaches in the minor leagues that have been coaching a lot longer than six years before getting the call.

Case in point: new Phillies bullpen coach Rod Nichols spent the previous 13 seasons in the minors.

Everybody considers Sandberg the heir apparent to Charlie Manuel, whose contract expires after next season. Manuel said he is not worried about any questions that might pop up next season about his future, which could happen if the Phillies start slowly.

Asked if he felt he needed to have a conversation with Manuel about any of those potential questions from pesky reporters, Sandberg said, “We’ll both be fine. I’ve been around him long enough. I feel like he has a trust in all of his coaches. I don’t think I’d be on his coaching staff if there wasn’t a trust level and a comfort level. I think we’ve developed a trust these last two years, both in Spring Training and in September as a call up. We’re very comfortable with each other. I enjoy being around him, and I think he feels the same way about me. And now we’ll work together. We have a common goal: winning as many games as we can and get to a World Series.”

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Sandberg and Others On Board

More news on the coaching front today:

Ryne Sandberg has been hired as the team’s third base coach and infield instructor. Steve Henderson has been hired as hitting coach and Rod Nichols has been hired as bullpen coach. Mick Billmeyer, Rich Dubee and Juan Samuel have been retained after yesterday’s dismissals of Pete Mackanin, Greg Gross and Sam Perlozzo.

Dubee, who is Charlie Manuel‘s right-hand man and controls everything pitching related, will return as pitching coach. Billmeyer moves from bullpen coach to catching coach. Samuel has been offered a move to first base/outfield/baserunning instructor.

Lopez Shines


lopez 0703.jpgRodrigo Lopez
said he felt a whole bunch of butterflies as he stepped onto the mound tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

He had not pitched in the Majors since July 26, 2007.

It hardly looked like it. He allowed six hits, two runs and one walk and struck out four in six innings in a much-needed 7-2 victory over the Mets. Lopez would have pitched next week for the Phillies pretty much regardless of how he pitched tonight, but he solidified himself a few more starts with a solid effort.

Lopez spent nearly two years recovering from Tommy John surgery to get to this point. But this moment almost never came. He spoke tonight about how he almost bailed on his big-league aspirations last month.

Lopez signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies at the end of Spring Training. He had an out clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he was not on the big-league roster by June 15.

He gave up six hits and five runs in five innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in a loss June 13, which dropped him to 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA.

“I was very upset about it,” Lopez said. “So I talked to (Lehigh Valley pitching coach Rod Nichols). I asked for his advice. I told him, ‘What do you think about me going to Mexico to try to get my confidence back?’ He told me, ‘The challenge is here. You can go to Mexico, but the challenge is here.’ Those were words that I’ll always remember.”

Lopez stuck with it. He went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his next three starts for the IronPigs. And once left-hander Antonio Bastardo injured his shoulder, the Phillies chose Lopez over Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Carpenter and Kyle Kendrick to take his place.

Good call.

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Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 5 with two doubles, two RBIs, a run scored and one Marco Scutaro.

Scutaro infamously took second base on a walk a couple weeks ago at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies fell asleep and nobody covered second base. Rollins pulled a similar move in the third inning when he took second after he hit a ball to center field. Nobody covered second and Rollins took advantage.

“Everybody parted the sea and there’s like this golden case sitting right in front of you,” Rollins said. “I hit the ball up the middle and I saw (Ryan) Church and he was looking to throw the ball to somebody. I never stopped running. I took three hard steps around first and I saw somebody in the middle and I said, ‘He’s not beating me to the bag,’ and I kept going. Those things happen.”

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Tonight’s victory snapped a six-game losing streak at home. … Rollins broke out “Billie Jean” and “Smooth Criminal” as his intro music tonight. Nice touch.

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