ORLANDO, Fla. — The bench coach is typically considered a manager’s closest confidant, the man in the dugout who points everything in the right direction. That is especially true for a first-year manager like Gabe Kapler. The conventional thinking would be to surround Kapler, who has no big-league coaching experience and managed A-ball for one season a decade ago, with a grizzled baseball man who once managed.
The Phillies, under Kapler, will usurp tradition.
They have five jobs on Kapler’s coaching staff to fill. They went for minor-league experience with the hire of Dusty Wathan as third-base coach. They added extensive big-league coaching experience with the hires of John Mallee as hitting coach and Rick Krantiz as a coach in some sort of pitching capacity.
So the bench coach may not be so grizzled.
“Having those two presences on the staff allow us to explore different types of candidates for the bench coach role,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Monday during baseball’s general managers meetings. “Obviously, there are different schools of thought on that. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to Gabe’s comfort level with the person, because that person has to be an important sounding board for the manager.
“One of the big things is making sure on the coaching staff we are creating connections with our players. Different staff members, based on their experiences and backgrounds and skills, will naturally connect with different players. We want to make sure all of our players are placed in an environment where they can get better.”
The Red Sox, Mets and Nationals all hired first-time managers in Alex Cora, Mickey Callaway and Dave Martinez. Their bench coaches are traditional baseball men in Ron Roenicke, Gary DiSarcina and Chip Hale.
Kapler is interviewing more candidates this week. There could be some decisions later in the week. It does not appear the Phillies will retain any more coaches from Pete Mackanin’s staff. That means Juan Samuel, Mickey Morandini, Bob McClure and John McLaren will head elsewhere. Larry Bowa accepted a front-office job. Matt Stairs went to San Diego to be the Padres’ hitting coach.
Kranitz does not yet have a job title. He could be pitching coach, a job he had for 10 seasons with Miami, Baltimore and Milwaukee. Or he could be assistant pitching coach — his job last season — should the Phillies find a more deserving candidate for the lead role.
“We still have some candidates on the pitching side we’re talking to,” Klentak said.