Jim Salisbury

Sources: Jorge Velandia emerges as strong candidate for Phillies manager job

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Sources: Jorge Velandia emerges as strong candidate for Phillies manager job

Phillies front-office executive Jorge Velandia has emerged as a strong candidate for the team's vacant manager's job.

Velandia had a lengthy interview with general manager Matt Klentak on Wednesday, according to sources. He is the second known candidate to interview for the job, joining Juan Samuel, a member of the team's coaching staff since 2013.

Velandia, 42, has spent the past eight seasons in a variety of player-development, player-personnel, coaching and advisory roles in the Phillies organization. He spent time on the big-league coaching staff in 2015. He rose to the position of special assistant to Klentak a year ago.

A former utility infielder who played in the majors with the Padres, Athletics, Mets, Rays, Blue Jays and Indians, Velandia is a native of Venezuela, where he has served as general manager of the La Guaira club in the Venezuelan winter league for six years. That is the same club that produced talented but enigmatic centerfielder Odubel Herrera, the only Phillie on a long-term contract.

The Phillies manager's job opened when Klentak reassigned Pete Mackanin, 66, to the front office last month. At the time, Klentak indicated that he was seeking a young perspective and a new style in the skipper's office. Klentak, 37, is one of a growing number of young, analytically driven general managers in the game, and he appears to want a field manager of his generation that both he and a young roster can grow with as the team moves closer to contending.

Velandia is going to get a long, serious look for this job. Klentak has a very small band of advisers in the organization and while Velandia might not be on the first ring, he's firmly on the second ring. The two have bonded in Klentak's first two years on the job and Velandia has shown a willingness to learn and embrace the analytic side of the game that Phillies ownership has demanded and the front office has built. Velandia has relationships with members of the Phillies' analytics team. His chemistry with Klentak, others in the front office and the analytics team should not be underestimated because game-day strategy is no longer limited to what happens in the dugout during nine innings. Managers are now seen as extensions of the front office, the final button-pusher in a daily team effort that extends to the executive level.

Klentak has promised a thorough search for his manager. In addition to Samuel, Triple A manager Dusty Wathan is a candidate. Samuel also interviewed for the position when Mackanin was hired in September 2015.

While there is no firm timetable for the hiring of a manager, club officials have said they'd like to have someone in place by the start of the general managers meetings during the second week of November. Those meetings generally signal the start of the offseason transaction season.

3 hot names emerge in Phillies' search for a new manager

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3 hot names emerge in Phillies' search for a new manager

Matt Klentak has not revealed any candidates in the Phillies' search for a new manager, but according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury, the early list of hot names includes Brad Ausmus, Tim Bogar and Gary DiSarcina.

Ausmus, like Klentak, is a Dartmouth alum. Ausmus was recently let go by the Detroit Tigers after compiling a 314-332 record in four seasons as manager.

Both Bogar and DiSarcina spent time alongside Klentak in the Angels' front office under general manager Jerry DiPoto. DiPoto was the Angels' GM from 2011-15, and Klentak was there as assistant GM for most of DiPoto's run.

Bogar, a teammate of DiPoto's on the 1995-96 Mets, has spent the last two seasons as the Seattle Mariners' bench coach, getting the job after DiPoto was named Seattle's GM in 2015.

Bogar also spent time as the Texas Rangers' interim manager in 2014 after Ron Washington resigned.

DiSarcina played shortstop for the Angels from 1989 through 2000. He later served as an assistant GM under DiPoto with the Angels before going on to manage the Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple A) for four years. 

After his run as a minor-league manager, DiSarcina joined Mike Scioscia's staff with the Angels, coaching third base and then first base. 

This past season, DiSarcina served as the Red Sox bench coach, filling the role vacated by Torey Lovullo, who is now the Diamondbacks' manager.

Here's a look at some other candidates Klentak could consider.

Fan favorite Mickey Morandini hopes for a place on new Phillies manager's staff

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Fan favorite Mickey Morandini hopes for a place on new Phillies manager's staff

Mickey Morandini etched his name into Phillies lore 25 years ago when he turned the first unassisted triple play in team history in a game against the Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.

The anniversary of the event arrived during a Phillies homestand two weeks ago. Video of the play appeared on Phanavision between innings of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Morandini, the Phillies' first base coach the last two seasons, watched the video from the top step of the dugout, then was a little overwhelmed when the crowd gave him a loud ovation. Morandini has always been a fan favorite. He waved in appreciation to the crowd as he made his way to the first base coaching box.

"These fans have always been great to me," the 51-year-old former second baseman said before Sunday's season finale. "That's why I love it here. The organization has been great to me. I have great relationships here."

Morandini completed his 19th year in a Phillies uniform Sunday and now heads into a period of uncertainty. The team announced on Friday that Pete Mackanin would not return as manager in 2018. General manager Matt Klentak told members of the coaching staff that they were "free agents." They can go strike a deal with another club or wait and see if the new manager would like to interview them for a spot on the new staff.

The organization would like to retain Larry Bowa, most recently bench coach, in a yet to be specified role, according to a source. He is expected to speak with team leaders in the near future.

Klentak has already begun his managerial search and the early list of hot names includes his fellow Dartmouth alum Brad Ausmus, who was recently let go by the Detroit Tigers, and two current big-league bench coaches, Tim Bogar of the Seattle Mariners and Gary DiSarcina of the Boston Red Sox. Both spent some time working in the Los Angeles Angels organization when Klentak was an assistant GM there.

Surely, Klentak's list of candidates is long.

Morandini hopes to work for the new manager.

"My number one choice would be to be on the big-league staff," he said. "I still want to coach. But I'd be open to other options. I'm only 51. I still have a lot to offer."

During his 19 years in a Phillies uniform, Morandini has been a player, a minor-league manager and coach and a big-league coach. During his time as part of the minor-league staff, he worked with many of the players that are now beginning to bloom in Philadelphia.

"I've been with a lot of these guys since 2011," he said. "I feel part of the rebuild. I love it here. I love the organization. I want to see the rebuild through.

"From the first half to the second half of this season, we improved a lot. Obviously, good things are happening. And we've done it with only one pitcher from our opening day rotation. The bullpen stepped up. Some of the young guys came up and played well.

"It's going to be exciting. It's not a finished product, but it's getting there."

Morandini played through pain in 2017. He has an arthritic left hip — "bone on bone," he said — but still managed to throw batting practice. He'll be pain-free next season. He is scheduled to have the hip replaced on October 17.

"Once I get my new hip I'll be sprinting again," he said with a laugh. "I can't wait to be able to run and work out again."