Don Mattingly staying with Blue Jays as Brewers promote bench coach to take over as manager

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After spending the last eight seasons as Craig Counsell’s bench coach, Pat Murphy is taking over for his former boss as the Milwaukee Brewers manager.

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The Brewers announced they were promoting Murphy on Wednesday, a little over a week after the Chicago Cubs announced they had hired Counsell away from Milwaukee. Counsell’s introductory news conference with the Cubs was Monday.

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“Pat Murphy brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and passion for the game of baseball as well as a familiarity with the Brewers organization, players, staff and culture,” Brewers president of baseball operations Matt Arnold said in a statement. “Pat has been a significant contributor in the run of recent seasons of unprecedented success in franchise history. We are pleased to have Pat remain in the Brewers family and excited to name him manager today.”

The Brewers will hold an introductory news conference on Thursday for Murphy, who received a three-year contract. The Athletic first reported the Brewers were expected to hire Murphy.

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Milwaukee reportedly had been interested in hiring Blue Jays bench coach Don Mattingly for the position, but now it appears the Yankees legend will remain in Toronto with an expanded role in 2024.

Murphy has big shoes to fill.

Counsell set a Brewers record for career managerial wins and led the franchise to its longest run of sustained success, including four playoff berths over the last six seasons. Counsell took over as the Brewers manager when Ron Roenicke was fired in 2015. He hired Murphy as his bench coach following that 2015 season.

The Counsell-Murphy connections go well beyond that. Murphy, who turns 65 on Nov. 28, was Notre Dame’s manager when Counsell played his college ball for the Fighting Irish from 1989-92.

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Murphy’s only managerial experience in the majors came in 2015, when he went 42-54 as the San Diego Padres’ interim manager after the firing of Bud Black. When the Padres hired Andy Green as their full-time manager after the 2015 season, Murphy joined Counsell’s staff in Milwaukee.

Before that, Murphy spent about three decades as a head coach in the college ranks and manager in the minor leagues.

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Murphy takes over a team that went 92-70 and won the NL Central this year before getting swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in a Wild Card Series. But the Brewers also find themselves at a crossroads because of the contract status of several key players.

The Brewers must decide whether to tender a contract to two-time All-Star Brandon Woodruff, who could miss the entire 2024 season after having shoulder surgery. All-Star pitcher Corbin Burnes and shortstop Willy Adames could become free agents after the 2024 season. And All-Star closer Devin Williams has two more seasons before he’s eligible for free agency.

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In addition to promoting Murphy, the Brewers named Rickie Weeks associate manager. Weeks played for the Brewers in 2003 and from 2005-14, making the NL All-Star team in 2011. He spent the last two seasons with the Brewers organization as an assistant to player development.

“Rickie was a hard-nosed, homegrown player for the Brewers for many years and is now a valued member of our coaching staff,” Arnold said. “We look forward to him bringing many of the attributes that he possessed as a player into the dugout in his new role.”

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Murphy posted a combined 947-400-2 coaching record at Notre Dame (1988-94) and Arizona State (1995-2009) and helped the Sun Devils reach the College World Series championship game in 1998. He has 1,000 total college wins, including his stints at Division III Maryville (Tennessee) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (California).

Murphy managed at the single-A and triple-A levels in the Padres organization from 2011-15 and posted a combined record of 273-230.

He missed much of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season after suffering a heart attack during a team workout at American Family Field that August. Murphy rejoined the team about six weeks later.

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