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Despite losing out to Kapler, Dusty Wathan 'all-in' with Phillies

Dusty Wathan got the news from general manager Matt Klentak on Sunday. He'd lost out to Gabe Kapler in the Phillies' manager derby.
 
Truth be told, there was a moment of disappointment for Wathan, as there should have been for anybody who makes his living in a competitive industry. But not long after, his naturally upbeat personality took over. He has spent the last 10 seasons trying to make the Phillies a better organization. And that's what he'll do in 2018.
 
"I'm a very positive guy," Wathan said Tuesday morning, the day after the Phillies officially announced that Kapler had been hired as the 54th manager in club history, succeeding Pete Mackanin, who had been reassigned to the front office last month. "I feel like this organization is on the cusp of big things. I feel like I've been a part of that and I'm looking forward to continuing to be a part of it.
 
"Matt and I had some good talks. Obviously, he thought Gabe was the right guy and I'm all-in. I want to see these kids do well and I'm going to do everything I can to see them have success. I'm good with this. I respect the decision and hope it works out for our organization."
 
Wathan, 44, has managed in the Phillies' improving minor-league system for the past 10 seasons. He was Eastern League manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015 and 2016 and earned a promotion to Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2017. He helped in the development of Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and a host of others who arrived in the majors in 2017 or are on their way, promising players such as second baseman Scott Kingery who the franchise hopes will make up the team's next winning core and, frankly, make Kapler look good.
 
Wathan is under contract to manage back at Lehigh Valley in 2018. He is eager to continue in that role — unless he's asked to be part of Kapler's coaching staff.
 
"They still have a lot of stuff going on with Gabe's announcement and everything, but at some point in the next few weeks we'll be talking," Wathan said. "I'm going to be here in some capacity helping the Phillies next year. Whatever happens, I feel I have the opportunity to be part of something special in the future. There will be some guys in Lehigh Valley next year and below that still need to develop if we want to get to where we want to be as an organization, and I'm excited to be part of that."
 
Wathan was a finalist for the job along with former Boston skipper John Farrell. All of the finalists went through two intense rounds of interviews that concluded Friday. There will be a news conference after the World Series to unveil Kapler; he is director of player development for the Los Angeles Dodgers and they are still playing in the Series.

During the news conference, Klentak will surely be asked what separated Kapler from the rest of the candidates. Kapler is highly literate in analytics and he brings an outside perspective to the organization, two qualities that have been stressed from ownership on down over the last two-plus years.
 
Was Wathan too "inside" for the Phillies?
 
"I don't think so," Wathan said. "Gabe and I have different personalities. The relationship between a general manager and a manager is the most important in an organization and sometimes it's just a personal feel. I know the players a lot, but there's more to it than that."
 
Was he analytically driven enough?
 
"I can only speak for myself," Wathan said. "I enjoy the analytical side of the game. When I broke in, it had just started and we were behind. But we've caught up and I've learned it as we've gone on."
 
A few weeks ago, at the end of the Phillies' season, Wathan received strong endorsements for the position from young players such as Hoskins and Crawford. He believes those players will continue to thrive under Kapler.
 
Wathan still has the goal of managing in the majors someday, just like his dad, former Kansas City Royals catcher John Wathan, did. He speaks to his dad frequently and both believe that being considered so strongly for the Phillies job was a positive.
 
"At the end of the minor-league season I had no idea the job would even be open," Wathan said. "So to go through this experience, to have my name brought up and to have the opportunity to be interviewed, can only help me. Interviews for major-league manager jobs don't come around every day.
 
"I won't lie, Sunday was a little difficult. When you're so close to a goal you've had your whole life ...

"But I've been around this game a long time and I know there's a winner and a loser every day. That's how it is. But still, I don't look at myself as a loser in this. It's gratifying that the organization gave me a look."