Phillies third-base coach Juan Samuel became the first candidate to interview for the vacant manager’s job when he discussed the opening with the team Tuesday.
“I think it went well,” Samuel said from his home in Florida. “I think I answered all the questions they had for me, and now we’ll wait and see what they decide. Just to be considered for the job means a lot to me.”
Samuel, 56, has been a Phillies coach since the 2011 season, when he was hired by former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to be part of Charlie Manuel’s staff. He also worked under former managers Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackanin. Samuel came to the Phillies from the Baltimore Orioles, where he worked under Phillies president Andy MacPhail.
Samuel, who has been the Phillies’ outfield instructor since joining the team in 2011, has been especially instrumental in the development of 2014 Rule 5 draft pick Odubel Herrera, a Venezuelan native who has been one of the team’s best players over the last three years. Herrera is considered an elite defensive centerfielder despite playing almost exclusively as an infielder before the Phillies selected him from Texas’ roster in the 2014 Rule 5 draft.
During his interview, Samuel emphasized that he did not want to be considered for the managerial job because of his Latino connections.
“I’d hate to be looked at for that reason,” he said. “I understand what the roster looks like, but I don’t want to be the manager of the Latinos. I want to be manager of the Phillies.”
Samuel said the subject of analytics was raised during his interview and he is not at all averse to their rising role in the game.
“Some questions came up in that regard,” Samuel said. “Of course they value analytics, and that’s the direction the game is going. If you have something available to you that gives you an advantage over other clubs, you should definitely use it.”
The Phillies are expected to interview other in-house candidates for the managerial job with Dusty Wathan and Jorge Velandia apparently on the list. Wathan, 44, has managed the last 10 years in the Phillies’ minor-league system, including this season at triple-A Lehigh Valley, and Velandia, 42, is a special assistant to general manager Matt Klentak, who has been in the Phillies’ organization since 2009, when he finished his playing career at Lehigh Valley.
Samuel said that he would definitely be willing to remain with the Phillies as a coach if he is not the team’s next manager.
“Of course I would,” he said. “By no means am I trying to leave Philadelphia. People know me as a Phillie even though I’ve played with other clubs.”
Samuel’s ties with the Phillies started when he signed with the team as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 1980. He made his major-league debut with the Phillies in 1983, and his 72 stolen bases as a rookie in 1984 remain a franchise record.
MacPhail is on record as saying he’d like the vacancy filled before next month’s GM meetings in Orlando. Recently fired Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus and Buck Showalter, who is still employed as the manager in Baltimore, have also been mentioned as potential candidates. So, too, have Chicago White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing, a Bristol native, and Alex Cora, the bench coach at Houston.