UPDATE: Larry Bowa joins the Phillies coaching staff

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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 AMWe 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.

Manoah, Merrifield lead Blue Jays to 3-1 win over Rays

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Alek Manoah pitched seven shutout innings, Whit Merrifield hit a three-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays regained the top AL wild-card spot with a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

The Blue Jays lead Tampa Bay by one game. The top wild card finisher will host all games in their best-of-three opening-round series, while the other two wild cards play strictly on the road.

Manoah (15-7) scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight while throwing a season-high 113 pitches. The righty worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the sixth by striking out Randy Arozarena and getting a flyout from David Peralta.

Jordan Romano replaced Tim Mayza with two on and two outs in the eighth and allowed pinch-hitter Harold Ramirez‘s RBI infield single but avoided further damage by striking out Manuel Margot. Romano finished the game to get his 35th save in 41 chances.

Tampa Bay starter Drew Rasmussen (10-7) gave up one run, three hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five.

The teams combined for 31 runs, with the Rays accounting for 20, in the first two games of the series that were both won by Tampa Bay.

Arozarena got the Rays’ first hit off Manoah with a two-out double in the fourth. He became the first Tampa Bay player and 20th big leaguer to have 40 doubles, 20 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season.

Teoscar Hernandez ended Rasmussen’s night with a double in the seventh. Brooks Raley entered and, after a walk to pinch-hitter Danny Jansen, Merrifield made it 3-0 on his 10th homer of the season.

Merrifield homered twice in Thursday night’s 10-5 loss to the Rays.

Alejandro Kirk opened the second with a single before Rasmussen retired 12 in a row until Merrifield’s leadoff double in the sixth.

Plate umpire Corey Blaser took a hard foul ball by Margot on the mask in the eighth but remained in the game.

HONORING KK

The Rays posted a thank you on the message board for CF Kevin Kiermaier, who is out for the season following left hip surgery. Kiermaier is in the final season of a $53.5 million, six-year contract that includes a club option for 2023 that is expected to be declined.

TEAM AWARDS

Rays ace Shane McClanahan was voted the Don Zimmer MVP award winner by members of the Tampa Bay chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. CF Jose Siri was selected as the outstanding rookie. 3B Yandy Diaz received the Paul C. Smith Champions award as the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson (lat strain) allowed three runs and three hits over two-thirds of an inning for Triple-A Buffalo.

Rays: 2B Brandon Lowe (lower back) is done for the season.

UP NEXT

McClanahan (12-6), pulled from his start Tuesday in the fifth inning due to neck tightness, will face Blue Jays RHP Ross Stripling (8-4) on Sunday.