The Phillies announced some of their new coaches today, but one position on the Phillies staff has not yet been. According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rod Nichols will interview for the position, as interviews have yet to be conducted. Nichols very well could be a top candidate for the job.
The Phillies liked Rod Nichols enough to promote him to the major league staff this season after spending eight seasons as pitching coach for the Phillies in their AAA affiliates, and several more at low A and AA dating back to 2000. It appears Nichols is a Phillies lifer. His son Chris Nichols,pitched this season for Lakewood and Clearwater.
Besides having put his time in, Nichols' was Ryne Sandberg's pitching coach during Sandberg's minor league managerial stint for the Phillies organization. Nichols has worked with the Phillies' young pitchers in the minors and now in the major leagues as the bullpen coach. Give Nichols some credit for the transformation of young pitchers Jake Diekman and B.J. Rosenberg, who have worekd their way into legitimate major league relievers.
The Phillies hired Nichols for their bullpen with the idea that he would be a second pitching coach to the relievers in the bullpen. The role was previously filled by Mick Billmeyer, a former minor league catcher who essentially helped answer the bullpen phone and warm up relief pitchers. The fact that Nichols has not been dismissed by now as Dubee and Billmeyer were, could mean that at the very least Nichols resumes his role in the Phillies bullpen.
If Nichols gets the job, the bullpen job could go to Ray Burris, pitching coach at AAA Lehigh Valley in 2013. Burris was often credited in helping straighten out relievers Jake Diekman and B.J. Rosenberg. Both spent time in AAA and came back to the major leagues as different pitchers. It is likely the Phillies will once again use the bullpen coach slot as a way of mentoring pitchers once again.
There have yet to be many candidates named in reports as possible Phillies pitching coach candidates. Bob Nightengale suggested Dave Wallace, pitching coach for the 2004 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. Philly-born Atlanta sports talker John Kincade suggested Leo Mazzone. But that is all they are: suggestions. At the end of the day I think the job will go to Rod Nichols.