Jimy Williams will not be returning as the Phillies’ bench coach; Rich Dubee, Milt Thompson and Davey Lopes will return.

Williams not returning to Phillies

Decision of bench coach unexpected; Manuel leaving door open

Pitching coach Rich Dubee, hitting coach Milt Thompson and first-base coach Davey Lopes will return in their current roles. The team was already looking to fill the position of third-base coach, after Manuel dismissed Steve Smith last week.

Mick Billmeyer, who has been serving as the team’s catching instructor since 2003, will likely return to the big league staff, though that hasn’t been finalized, according to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

Dubee, 51, returns for his fifth season as pitching coach. Under Dubee in 2008, Phillies pitchers compiled a 3.88 ERA, the fourth best in the National League. The rotation had 88 quality starts, the second most in the NL, behind Arizona (95).

Lopes again tutored the baserunners to a Major League-best 84.5 percent stolen-base success rate (136 steals in 161 chances). The team’s steals total was the third best in the NL. As outfield instructor, Lopes led the outfielders to 36 assists, tops in the NL and tied for the Major League lead.

Thompson, 49, returns for his sixth season as a Phillies coach and fifth as the hitting coach. In 2008 he oversaw an offense that led the NL in home runs (214), finished second in RBIs (762) and tied for second in runs scored (799). In Thompson’s four seasons as hitting coach, the Phillies have scored more runs (3,363) than any other NL team.

Williams, 65, started his playing career in 1965 as a shortstop and compiled 13 Major League at-bats in 1966-67, with the Cardinals. He has spent more than 30 years as a coach and manager.

Williams managed the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Astros before joining the Phillies in October 2006, following Manuel’s second season as manager. With Philadelphia, he worked with the pitchers, and they finished first among all Major League staffs in runs, second in walks and fourth in hits.

His departure was unexpected.

“I talked to him right at the end of the year,” Manuel said. “I told him how good a job he did and that I was looking forward to having him back. He wasn’t upset. It was one of those things that he wanted to see what he wants to do. It’s not like he left on a bad note. I guess there are things he wants to think about.”

Manuel plans to speak with Williams again in the next few days, and he left the door open in the event Williams changes his mind.

“To me, it doesn’t seem that way,” Manuel said. “But I’ll call him in a couple of days and see where he’s at. … I don’t know if he’s looking to retire. I think Jimy will stay in the game.” (H/T Phillies.com)

Well, looks like the team is really going to be different when spring training start next year. Hopefully that’ll include the guys knowing how to hit the ball when the situation calls for something other than a home run.

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