Phillies bring back Juan Samuel as third-base coach

Juan Samuel was the interim manager of the Baltimore Orioles for 51 games in 2010, and has also coached in Detroit.
Juan Samuel was the interim manager of the Baltimore Orioles for 51 games in 2010, and has also coached in Detroit.
Posted: November 12, 2010

Juan Samuel was the leading man in the Phillies' 1985 advertising campaign when he correctly proclaimed for promotional purposes, "I'm the fastest."

That was the year after Samuel stole 72 bases as a rookie, setting a single-season franchise record that stands today.

As it turned out, the process of getting the popular Samuel back to Philadelphia as a member of the coaching staff was slow, but it finally happened Thursday when the Phillies said that their former second baseman would be the team's third-base coach next season.

"I couldn't be any happier," Samuel said after agreeing to a two-year contract. "I'm going back to where things started. It's just a feel-good situation for me. It's like a dream come true."

Samuel, 49, replaces Davey Lopes, who left last week after he could not agree to a new contract with the Phillies. Sam Perlozzo, the Phillies' third-base coach the last two seasons, will move to first.

Despite Samuel's penchant for stealing bases, manager Charlie Manuel said Perlozzo will take control of the Phillies' running game, the job that had belonged to Lopes since 2007. Perlozzo will remain in charge of infield defense and Samuel will coach the outfielders, a job that also previously belonged to Lopes.

"I have two coaches in [Perlozzo] and Juan that are very versatile, and I think this is a big addition to our coaching staff," Manuel said. "When I talked to [Perlozzo] on the phone, I could see how much he was interested in being a baserunning coach again, and I always felt like the baserunning coach should coach first base."

Manuel acknowledged that Lopes' departure was difficult. The Phillies had the best stolen-base percentage in baseball during each of Lopes' four seasons on the coaching staff.

"Davey might have been the best base-stealing coach I've been around, and I've said that before," the manager said. "He could read pitchers real good . . . and anything that would give you an edge, Davey would come up with it.

"When you talk about breaks and reads and the fundamental part of running the bases, there are a lot of areas we can improve on. Talking to [Perlozzo], he is excited about doing that, and I think our baserunning is going to be fine."

Samuel will be coaching outfielders for the first time since 2005, when he was a coach with Detroit. After retiring as a player in 1998, following three seasons as a bench option with the Toronto Blue Jays, Samuel was hired as a coach by the Tigers. In 2007, he joined Baltimore as a third-base coach, where he remained through last season. Samuel also spent 51 games as the Orioles' interim manager last season after Dave Trembley was fired. Samuel was replaced by Buck Showalter in August.

Though Samuel was known as a second baseman during his days in Philadelphia, he played quite a bit in the outfield during the latter stages of his career and spent his first seven seasons as a major-league coach working with outfielders. His main project with the Phillies figures to be working with Domonic Brown, the 23-year-old rightfielder who could be in the starting lineup opening day.

It appeared that Samuel was going to remain with Baltimore as recently as last week, but when talks stalled with the Orioles, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. aggressively pursued the three-time all-star, who has cherished his ties to Philadelphia.

"I've always been connected with the Phillies, and I think that's because my best years were there," Samuel said. "Ruben [Amaro] Sr. signed me, so having Ruben Amaro [Jr.] bring me back here, it's like I've come full cycle."

Samuel played with the Phillies from 1983 through the middle of the 1989 season, when he was traded to the New York Mets for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell. Samuel was inducted into the Phillies' Wall of Fame in 2008, and he will become the 38th person in franchise history to play and coach for the team.

Extra bases. Former Phillies hitting instructor Milt Thompson, who was fired in the middle of last season, has landed a job with the Houston Astros. He will work as a minor-league outfield and baserunning instructor. . . . Catcher Dane Sardinha has signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies, according to Baseball America. Sardinha had a brief stint with the Phillies last season, and with Paul Hoover opting for free agency, he could move up from fourth- to third-string catcher next season. . . . Foxsports.com reported that the Phillies have signed utility man Pete Orr to a minor-league deal. Orr hit .264 with 12 home runs with Washington's triple-A Syracuse affiliate last season.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

Staff writer Matt Gelb contributed to this article.

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