PHILADELPHIA — Saturday felt a little more normal to Phillies interim manager Rob Thomson.
He got to Citizens Bank Park between 9-10 a.m., which is typical for a 7 p.m. game. If his family is in town, he pushes his arrival to 11.
“If they’re not here, I really don’t have much to do, so I come to the ballpark, work out and start my prep,” Thomson said. “Now, it’s a little different.”
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski dismissed Joe Girardi on Friday morning. He named Thomson his replacement. Friday was unexpected, surreal and crazy for Thomson, who has been in professional baseball for 38 years. Thomson not only replaced one of his best friends, but he addressed players as their leader in a meeting that followed a news conference with Philadelphia media.
The easiest part of Friday was managing the Phillies to a 10-0 victory over the Angels. Thomson said he had 350 text messages when he checked his phone afterward.
“It’s the most I’ve ever had,” he said. “I don’t know how many you guys get. I’m still trying to catch up. I got on the elliptical this morning and that’s all I did. All day long.”
Thomson heard from folks he had not talked to in a while. He talked to Stump Merrill, who managed the Yankees from 1990-91. Thomson coached with Merrill in Triple-A Columbus in 1996. He talked to Dick Groch, his coach at St. Clair Community College in Michigan. Groch might be best known as the Yankees scout who signed Derek Jeter.
But once Thomson got to the ballpark on Saturday he found himself with a little less to do. The Phillies promoted quality assurance coach Mike Calitri to bench coach. He will handle most of the heavy prep work now, as will Phillies pitching coaches.
“I’m still preparing certain things that I need during the game, but there’s less of that and more about being with the players, communicating with them,” Thomson said.
Thomson said it felt different.
“I’m sitting in a player’s locker talking to him and I feel like I need to be doing something else,” Thomson said. “But that is my job.”