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Phillies manager update: Juan Samuel interviews, Jorge Velandia emerges

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The Phillies are diving right in with this manager search.

Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day
The man has a killer smile.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Phillies’ search for a new manager is certainly progressing. There are names being mentioned in the press and the word “interview” is being used, and it’s all very exciting.

On Wednesday we got info about two of the Phillies’ managerial candidates: Juan Samuel and Jorge Velandia.

Let’s start with third base coach Samuel, who has been with the Phillies forever, it seems. He came aboard in 2011 and has served under three managers: Charlie Manuel, Ryne Sandberg, and Pete Mackanin. That he’s managed to survive all of that is pretty remarkable. And now, he’s interviewed for the Phillies managerial opening. In fact, Bob Brookover reported on Wednesday that he was the very first one to do so.

“I think it went well,” Samuel said from his home in Florida. “I think I answered all the questions they had for me, and now we’ll wait and see what they decide. Just to be considered for the job means a lot to me.”

I love Sammy. He seems like a tremendously good natured guy, and he’s been in the game forever as a player, coach, and even a brief stint as manager. (He was the Orioles interim manager in 2010.) I’m glad he’s being considered for the job — the Phillies owe him that. And Samuel also emphasized that he wants to stay in Philly even if he doesn’t get the manager job.

Samuel is Latino, but doesn’t want to be considered for the job just because of that. And honestly, if he was, that would be a stupid thing for the Phillies to do. As we saw with Charlie Manuel, and as we currently see with almost every other manager currently in the game right now, speaking Spanish isn’t the only way to communicate with Latino players. Players, coaches, and managers find ways to communicate even when they speak different languages.

Samuel may be the first candidate to interview, but someone else has “emerged” onto the scene. And according to NBC Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, that someone is Jorge Velandia. Velandia was the second person to interview for the job, and Salisbury says that his conversation with GM Matt Klentak was “lengthy.” Velandia has been a member of the Phillies coaching staff since 2013, and has been a special assistant to Klentak since last year. Here’s Salisbury on Velandia’s background.

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.

There were a number of other interesting tidbits in this article that Salisbury just dropped. Salisbury thinks that Klentak is looking for a manager that isn’t just analytically minded, but perhaps of his own generation. Additionally, while Salisbury says that Velandia isn’t in Klentak’s “first ring” of close, trusted advisors, he’s absolutely in the second ring, whatever that means. I’m sure I’ll spend an inadvisable amount of time in the next few days drawing rings on a piece of paper and writing down names of people who could be in those rings, like it’s one of those MASH games from middle school.

These two are far from the only interviews the Phillies are going to do. And I’m sure at some point they’re going to interview someone that you or I hate and do not want as manager. But for now, these two dudes are a fantastic start. I’m exciting to see where this goes.