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Jim Leyland didn’t replace Joe Girardi as Phillies manager for a variety of reasons


Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland have worked together for much of their careers. (Larry Goren/Icon Sportswire)

Dave Dombrowski was the general manager of the 1997 Florida Marlins, who under Jim Leyland’s guidance won the first World Series in franchise history. Dombrowski was also the general manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and 2012, when Leyland led them to appearances in the World Series.

So naturally, as Joe Girardi’s seat warmed over the last few weeks, speculation emerged from both prominent national reporters and media personalities that if the Philadelphia Phillies did make a change at manager, perhaps Dombrowski would recruit Leyland.

Dombrowski did ultimately fire Girardi Friday morning, but named bench coach Rob Thomson the interim manager. Bringing in Leyland as his replacement wasn’t a consideration for a variety of reasons.

“First of all, they probably didn’t understand the process for naming a manager in the middle of the season,” Dombrowski said when asked about some who speculated he would reach out to Leyland. “So, unless you go through a full interview process, you have to name an interim manager, because Major League Baseball has rules that you need to go through a complete process of diversity. So first of all, it was an interim basis.”

Beyond procedural hurdles to hiring an external manager in the middle of a season, Leyland is 77 years old. He was the third base coach for Tony La Russa with the Chicago White Sox from 1982-1985, a period in which Dombrowski also was a key figure in the team’s front office. But while La Russa, also 77, is back in the dugout for the White Sox, it doesn’t sound as though Leyland has the itch to take on the grind of being a manager at this stage of his life.

“Secondly, Jim Leyland, I have the utmost respect [for], [he’s] one of my best friends. We talk all the time,” Dombrowski continued with a smile. “I do know that Jim is not interested in getting back on the field. I know that. When I say that, I mean back on the field as a manager, not that he won’t help out in Spring Training like he does with the Tigers. But he just, he does not wanna do that.”

Leyland himself said “No thank you” to Jon Heyman of The New York Post earlier this week when asked about the possibility of taking over as Phillies manager. There’s no evidence that this was him suggesting that the Phillies are an undesirable job, but that he just isn’t interested in managing again.

Who knows what happens this offseason if Thomson does just prove to be an interim manager and Dombrowski embarks on a search for the team’s next skipper. But as of right now, it appears that finishing as one of the runner-ups to Charlie Manuel in the team’s managerial search after the 2004 season will be the closest Leyland gets to putting on red pinstripes.

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