UPDATE: It’s official: Larry Bowa and Pete Mackanin have joined Phillies staff as bench coach and 3rd base coach. Wally Joyner is out.
9:06 AM: We first talked about this in September, but now it looks like it’s gonna happen. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Larry Bowa is nearing an agreement to become the Phillies’ new bench coach.
Salisbury notes that Bowa is a friend and confidant of manager Ryne Sandberg’s, going back to their time on the Cubs in the early 80s when the former mentored the future Hall of Famer. Now, with Charlie Manuel out and his coaching staff being swept out after him, Sandberg understandably wants his own folks in place.
On the one hand I get it. Bowa, with managerial experience and the confidence of the manager, is sort of the prototypical bench coach in a certain way. Most of us didn’t even really think about the existence of bench coaches until we saw Don Zimmer at Joe Torre’s elbow for all of those years in the 90s, and it’s the same general deal there: ex-manager who can be a second set of eyes and someone who the skipper can bounce things off of. And his senior status is such that there isn’t some simmering job envy between them which could be weird.
On the other hand, Bowa has always been kind of a hothead who was known for berating players back when he managed. That’s not a trait you want in your bench coach. If anything, you’d want your bench coach who can be a guy that can bring player concerns to the manager and/or help communicate the manager’s diktats to the players if needed. Bowa is not exactly the great communicator.
Maybe his time away from the dugout has mellowed him. Maybe he’ll be able to adapt to the gig and not approach it the same way he did when he ran the Phillies ten years ago. But it will be interesting to watch regardless.