Jim Thome will make his managerial debut for the American League team at the All-Star Futures Game on July 7 in Cleveland, Major League Baseball announced Tuesday.
His bench coach: Charlie Manuel, of course.
“I’ll try not to mess him up,” Manuel said, chuckling.
Manuel and Thome have had a father-son relationship ever since Thome was in rookie ball with the Cleveland Indians in 1989. Manuel was Thome’s hitting coach and manager with the Indians and later with the Phillies in 2005.
Thome, who hit 612 home runs in his 22-year career and was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year, often credits Manuel as the biggest influence on his career. They remain close and speak regularly. When Thome asked Manuel if he would be by his side for the Futures Game, Manuel didn’t hesitate.
“Jim asked me. Major League Baseball asked me. I told them, of course,” Manuel said. “I look forward to it. I think it’s an honor.”
The coaching staffs for both the American and National League teams feature several former Indians players. Dennis Martinez will manage the NL squad and will have Carlos Baerga, Charles Nagy and Omar Vizquel on his staff.
Thome has worked as an analyst for MLB Network since his retirement. Manuel said he believes Thome would make a good manager because of his skills as a communicator.
But how will Manuel fare as a bench coach?
“I never have been a bench coach,” he said. “I’ll probably try to manage. I’ll probably get mad if [Thome] doesn’t do what I tell him to do.”
Manuel made a prediction.