Lengthy search for pitching coach continues

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (left) and team manager Ryne Sandberg (right). (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

ORLANDO, Fla. — This much is known: The Phillies, according to a source, offered their vacant pitching coach job to two men, both of whom declined to remain with their current employers. They canvassed a variety of candidates, putting an emphasis on experience. Ultimately, they may have to settle for less.

There could be a resolution this week here at the GM Meetings, although the Phillies insist there is no rush to appointing Rich Dubee's replacement.

Until Atlanta stepped in with a significant pay raise for Roger McDowell, the Phillies were under the impression the Braves' pitching coach would swap rivals and join Ryne Sandberg's staff. The search moved to Pirates special assistant Jim Benedict, who carries a long and successful resume and was credited with behind-the-scenes work that revitalized Pittsburgh's staff. He, too, rebuffed the Phillies.

At this advanced stage, it is doubtful the Phillies can lure a current team's pitching coach. The Phillies had hoped more candidates would emerge after Oct. 31, when many coaches' contracts expire in baseball.

Internal candidates Rod Nichols and Ray Burris were interviewed. The hire is likely to come from the outside. This whole process would not have happened if the Phillies thought Nichols, the team's bullpen coach and former triple-A pitching coach, was the right man. (Nichols could still return as bullpen coach.)

They also spoke to, among others, Jeff Pico, an Arizona Diamondbacks minor-league roving instructor and former Cubs teammate of Sandberg.

There are no indications the Phillies will consider names like Dave Duncan, Leo Mazzone and Jamie Moyer. Duncan, the former Cardinals pitching savant, is expected to remain retired. Mazzone stumped for the job on Twitter, which indicates why he has been out of baseball for six years.

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