Linked together in one of the worst trades in franchise history, Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg now will be working in the same dugout trying to restore the Philadelphia Phillies’ winning ways.
Bowa, a former Phillies manager and shortstop, returned to the team Tuesday to serve as bench coach under Sandberg. The two infielders were traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1981 for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. Sandberg, a throw-in at the time, went on to become a Hall of Fame second baseman.
"We go back a long ways," Sandberg said. "He’ll be a terrific guy by my side. I have a high level of comfort with him. With his baseball background, as a baseball man, he’s top notch."
Besides Bowa, Pete Mackanin also is coming back to the Phillies to be the third-base coach. Mackanin was the bench coach for Charlie Manuel from 2009-12. Manuel was fired and replaced by Sandberg in August during the middle of Philadelphia’s first losing season since Bowa was the manager in 2002.
"I like Pete’s experience as a third-base coach," Sandberg said. "He’s a lot like Larry, a well-rounded baseball man. They know the team, they know the players, they have a feel for Phillies baseball and expectations."
The Phillies began reshuffling their coaching staff by firing pitching coach Rich Dubee after the season. Catching coach Mick Billmeyer was let go over the weekend and Wally Joyner declined to remain as assistant hitting coach to Steve Henderson. The status of bullpen coach Rod Nichols and first-base coach Juan Samuel is still under review. Nichols will be considered for the pitching coach position, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
Bowa, a fan favorite as a player, was part of the 1980 World Series championship team. He was a five-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner during his career with the Phillies from 1970-81.
Bowa managed the Phillies from 2001-04 and also was the third-base coach from 1988-96. He was NL Manager of the Year in 2001, but left on bitter terms after his dismissal.
"Ryne’s comfort level and Larry’s ability as a baseball man overrode any ill feelings for us," Amaro said. "Fact of the matter is he’s an outstanding baseball man. This isn’t about Larry Bowa. It’s about building a staff around Ryne that’s going to be an effective one."
The 67-year-old Bowa previously managed the San Diego Padres from 1987-88, and coached for the Angels, Mariners, Yankees and Dodgers. He spent the past three years working as an analyst for MLB Network.
Known for his fiery temper, Bowa has a knack for rubbing some people the wrong way. But fans love his emotional style.
"I like people to be themselves," Sandberg said. "He’s come on board to support me and be one of the coaches and everybody working together. I’ve had good conversations with him and he’s on board. A little bit of energy and excitement is also something he can bring to the ballclub in a positive way. I’m excited about having him around."
Mackanin was a pro scout for the Yankees in 2013. He has coached for Montreal and Pittsburgh, and was interim manager for the Reds and Pirates.
Manuel also could be returning to the Phillies. Amaro said he’s still considering accepting a front-office position he was offered the day he was fired.
"I think he’d be a valuable member of our organization," Amaro said.