Gabe Kapler wanted to hire Kai Correa on Phillies staff

Manager Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
Manager Gabe Kapler of the San Francisco Giants (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler discusses a time when he didn’t get his way in Philadelphia

Just six years ago, Kai Correa was a coach for his Division III alma mater Puget Sound; then, he became an assistant coach for four seasons at the Division I-ranked Northern Colorado. In 2018, Correa jumped to professional baseball with the Cleveland Indians organization, serving as a low-level minor-league infield coach that season, and as a minor-league defensive coordinator in 2019.

The 31-year-old’s quick rise to the Major League Baseball level, now as bench coach and infield/baserunning instructor for the 2020 season under new San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, could have looked a lot different if the skipper got his way in Philadelphia.

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The Hawaii native is set to become the youngest bench coach in the majors, but, Kapler wanted him on the Phillies coaching staff for the start of his first of two seasons in red pinstripes, 2018.

“For several years when I was with the Dodgers, I followed Kai, and this is when I was the farm director,” Kapler said on NBC Sports Bay Area’s recent “Chalk Talk at Home” segment. “I followed Kai on social media and heard some things through the grapevine about how creative, dynamic, and fearless he was.”

Kapler continued that there were “many times” he thought about trying to hire him.

“When I got to Philadelphia and I became the manager of the Phillies, I brought Kai in and we interviewed him to be our in infield coach,” Kapler said. “It came down to Kai and another veteran. Kai was tremendous in that interview, but as you can see, Kai is super young, and he didn’t have all that much experience.”

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“There were a lot of people in the room in Philadelphia who thought he needed a little bit more seasoning and frankly, and just for this group, I thought Kai would have been a tremendous infield coach even then at the major-league level, which was almost three years ago now,” Kapler added.

The East Bay Times writes:

"Correa ascended to his position on manager Gabe Kapler’s first Giants staff by developing a reputation as a well-regarded infield instructor for his clear, innovative coaching methods, fantastic organizational skills and natural relationship-building abilities. His rapid rise through the coaching ranks is due in large part to how he delivers his coaching points."

Clearly, Kapler still disagrees with the Phillies’ decision to pass over Correa. As a first-year Giants manager, it appears the National League West organization gave him a “larger leash” to form his coaching staff.

“Fast-forward to the opportunity to become the Giants manager, and Kai was the first guy that I had to have on our staff,” Kapler continued. “I stayed in touch with Kai; we have mutual friends in common, and I made sure that, strategically, we were still connected so that we could make that come to fruition.”

Kapler has high hopes for him this season, even in a fast-paced, 60-game sprint: “Since Kai has been an incredible teammate, an awesome facilitator on our staff, and has done everything that we could have possibly imagined and more, I think he’s going to be a tremendous bench coach for us in 2020.”