Phillies add Ryne Sandberg as third base coach, will go without bench coach

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Philadelphia shook up its coaching staff yesterday, firing bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross, and first base coach Sam Perlozzo within minutes of their final game ending.

Today they announced some of the replacements, including Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg as third base coach. As part of that move Juan Samuel moves to first base coach and the Phillies have also added Steve Henderson as their new hitting coach.

Apparently manager Charlie Manuel will go without an official bench coach, which is interesting, although holdover pitching coach Rich Dubee is sort of his right-hand man by default and as a former Triple-A manager presumably Sandberg could take on some of the usual bench coach role.

Philadelphia filled out the rest of the staff with Rod Nichols as bullpen coach, moving former bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer to catching coach.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.