Rob Thomson opens up about what makes his Phillies so successful

In a recent interview, the Phillies skipper gave us an insight into his approach and how he keeps his team on the right track.
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two
Championship Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Manager Rob Thomson is about to start his third season at the helm of the Philadelphia Phillies, and since taking over the role of manager when Joe Girardi was fired on June 3, 2022, the Phillies have become a playoff-contending team capable of making long postseason runs.

In a recent interview with theScore's senior baseball writer Travis Sawchik, Thomson was candid in explaining his approach to managing a modern baseball clubhouse. Thomson also went in depth about the influence figures like his father and former New York Yankees manager Joe Torre had on his managing style and approach to leadership.

Why does Thomson think players responded to him when he took over for Girardi in 2022?

When Rob Thomson was named interim manager following the firing of Joe Girardi in June of 2022, the talented but under-performing Phillies seemed like a team with bad clubhouse chemistry. In parts of three seasons as Phillies manager, Girardi's teams were a disappointing 132-141. At the time of his firing, the Phillies were 22-29, and it was abundantly clear that the team wasn't responding well to Girardi's old-school style of team management. So what did Thomson do differently?

"If we are going through a bad stretch, it might just be walking through the clubhouse after a tough loss and saying, 'Boys, just get them tomorrow. It's going to be alright. Don't worry about it,'" said Thomson, per Sawchik. "I think players like that and respect that. That the guy in charge is under control."

Thomson explained who influenced his loose disposition as a baseball manager.

"My father's philosophy on life, in general, was very similar to [former Yankees manager] Joe Torre's," Thomson said. "And that is: Some things you cannot control, so don't worry about that stuff. There's a lot of things you cannot control, so just stay calm."

Thomson also talked about staying connected with players off the field and how it helps keep them focused. Using the example of Johan Rojas, the Phillies skipper explained how his approach keeps young players from overthinking the game. By letting a young player like Rojas know days ahead of time when he'll be getting a day off, a bad game won't make them second guess themselves or the manager's confidence in them.

What went into Thomson's decision not to tell Ranger Suárez he was only going four innings in Game 1 of the NLDS?

One of Rob Thomson's riskier moves in his tenure as Phillies manager was in Game 1 of the NLDS versus the rival Atlanta Braves. With Ranger Suárez on the mound and pitching well, it was a surprise to everyone when Thomson removed Suárez after only four innings.

Thomson said he conferred with pitching coach Caleb Cotham and bench coach Mike Calitri about the decision and whether or not Suárez should be let in on the plan.

So, why did they opt to keep this information from Suárez that day?

Reflecting on the circumstances surrounding that decision and why it worked out, Thomson said he just wanted his lefty starter to feel like it was a normal start so he could be himself. The move worked out.

"We came to the decision that we just weren't going to tell him, and we'll explain it after he comes out of the game," added Thomson. "We knew it was going to be a short start. ... We just felt like just letting Ranger go out and be himself, and pitch the way he normally does would be best, and he did. He pitched great."

Rob Thomson clearly has a handle on his team and how to get the best out of each individual player. That trust was rewarded this offseason when the Phillies extended Thomson into the 2025 season. A new baseball season brings new challenges, and 2024 will offer plenty of opportunities to see how Thomson's on-field management has grown.