Phillies gave Thomson a group hug Monday, Tuesday they'd like to give him a W


ATLANTA – Bryson Stott, Alec Bohm, Kyle Schwarber and Garrett Stubbs were sitting around the clubhouse doing a crossword Monday afternoon.

What’s an eight-letter word for being extremely happy to learn something?

No, that wasn’t one of the clues, but it certainly would have been appropriate for the moment.

Stott looked down at his phone and saw the news that the Phillies had ditched Rob Thomson’s interim title and awarded him a two-year contract to manage the club through 2024.

The eight-letter word is thrilled.

“We kind of saw it first and Topper was actually walking by so we all got up and gave him a group hug and told him congrats,” Stott said. “He’s awesome. He deserves it. His calmness calms everyone through the year. To have someone like that leading this team is just awesome.”

Throughout the clubhouse, Phillies players shared in Stott’s emotion.

“Well deserved,” Nick Castellanos said. 


“Just the fact that he never panics," Castellanos said. "I think that’s a credit to the amount of games he’s seen as a bench coach.

“From the moment he took over we never really looked at him as an interim. In fact, the label kind of bothered us after a while. We were like, ‘Just get rid of it.’ 

“This is a good day.”

Rhys Hoskins concurred.

“Great news to start our time here in Atlanta,” he said.

Less than 24 hours before his team was to play the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, Thomson was required to appear at a league-mandated news conference Monday afternoon. The first handful of questions were about the contract extension and the job performance that led to it.

Thomson, 59, was rather uncomfortable with it all.

“Yes – please!” he said when someone asked if they could ask a baseball question.

Then Thomson, players-first guy that he is, dodged the question. It had to do with his Game 1 lineup. He wasn’t comfortable announcing it because he had not yet personally informed the players who was in and who was out.

The lineup will be announced before Tuesday’s 1:07 p.m. first pitch. With the Braves sending lefty Max Fried to the mound, it will probably be similar to the one the Phillies used Friday against St. Louis lefty Jose Quintana. Ranger Suarez will start for the Phillies, who earned their way to the Division Series with a pair of wins against St. Louis in the wild-card series.

Thomson also earned his way to his contract extension.

The Phillies entered the season with huge expectations and a huge payroll of $230 million. By the end of May, they were withering under the weight of those expectations. They were seven games under .500 when Thomson took over for Joe Girardi on June 3. The team quickly won eight in a row. 

In four months under Thomson, the Phillies went 65-46 to earn a postseason berth for the first time since 2011.

“I think you can see the way we respond to him and I think the rest of the organization has seen that,” Hoskins said. “We've obviously played some pretty good baseball since he's taken over. 

"I'm elated for him. He's a baseball man. We're more than happy to go to war for him, as you can tell.”

By design, the term of Thomson’s contract extension coincides with the length of time remaining on president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski’s deal.

Both could end up staying longer. It all comes down to wins.

Dombrowski said he came to the conclusion several weeks ago that he wanted to retain Thomson as manager, but with the team focused on making the playoffs, it was no time to make news.

Monday’s off day in the Major League Baseball postseason schedule gave him a clear day to do it.

Before naming Thomson manager, Dombrowski spoke with Commissioner Rob Manfred. MLB has guidelines and protocols governing the interview process for high-level positions. The league requires that minorities be considered. But there are exceptions to the policy for obviously deserving in-house candidates.

“I called the Commissioner to make sure and get his approval,” Dombrowski said. “He said he wasn’t in for sham interviews. I'm for promoting minorities and I agree with that totally. But it's also a situation where it's tough to top what (Thomson) has done.”

In recent days, several veteran players have offered public testimonials on behalf of Thomson being named manager for next season. Some offered their opinions to Dombrowski privately in recent weeks. The situation was not viewed as a distraction in the clubhouse. Dombrowski simply made the move now because it made sense.

Dombrowski praised Thomson for his communication skills and open-mindedness “to different things that are presented to him.” Personnel decisions and game-planning involve more people and more data and technology these days and Thomson is receptive and collaborative while still running the club.

Other than the fact that he won’t be introduced as an "interim" manager before Tuesday’s game, Thomson’s new job security won’t change anything in the short term. He has a ballgame to win Tuesday and a series to win this week. As a bench coach or an interim manager, he’s always been the same guy. That won’t change.

“I don't think this impacts anything today,” Thomson said. “I'm just very humbled, really, and I feel fortunate that John Middleton and Dave and Sam have the confidence in me to run this ballclub for the next couple of years.

“Like I said before, it's a really good ballclub now. And it's only going to get better. And for them to have that confidence in me is really humbling.”

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