Ex-Met Samuel loves coaching in Philly
Age has added a few inches to his midsection and Juan Samuel no longer looks like the speedy outfielder who stole 31 bases in 86 games for the Mets in 1989.
But it also has brought plenty of wisdom and experience -- none more valuable, he said, than the 51 games he served as interim manager of the Orioles last season.
The 50-year-old Samuel is now the third-base coach for the Phillies, the team he made his mark playing for in the 1980s. He reflects positively about his first (if short-lived) managerial opportunity and indicated he will be looking for another.
"I loved it," said Sammy, as he's affectionately called. "For me, just keeping things tight and making sure the players come out and compete every day, gave me an effort, that was good enough for me. Then the outcome will happen if we stay positive. I think I got some of that message across. I'm proud of that."
Samuel -- then the Orioles' third-base coach -- was named interim manager after the Orioles fired Dave Trembley on June 4, inheriting a team that had gone 15-39. Samuel held the position until Aug. 1, when he was replaced by Buck Showalter after a 17-34 record. Rather than return to the coaches box, he took another position in the Orioles' organization and was hired by the Phillies last November.
Asked what he learned about himself during his time as manager, Samuel joked that he's more patient than he thought.
"For me, it's not showing a lot of emotion either way," he said. "Just trying to stay level all the time. Your players are going to feed off you so I was very aware of not trying to show my emotions either way."
Samuel might be best known to Mets fans as the player the team received in a deal for Lenny Dykstra and Roger McDowell in 1989. The Dominican Republic native finished his 16-year career as a three-time All Star with eight seasons with 30-plus steals.
Samuel said he was a candidate for managerial openings in Milwaukee and Pittsburgh last year but ultimately pulled his name out when the Philadelphia coaching spot opened.
"I couldn't be any happier," Samuel said. "I'm back where things started for me."
He also brought back "Sammyfest," an annual party he used to throw at Frenchy's Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla., during spring training for players, front office and media members alike.
"They turned it into a "Welcome Back Sammyfest," Samuel said.
Samuel said he's not actively looking for another managing spot just yet. But if one comes, he now believes he's ready.
"I'm not thinking about it," Samuel said. "I'm going to try hanging around here as a coach as long as I can. I always say that I love Philly. I grew up here."