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Phils not renewing longtime coach Billmeyer's contract

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies announced Saturday that they are not renewing the contract of longtime coach Mick Billmeyer.

Billmeyer might not have been the most high-profile coach on the big league staff, but his presence loomed large in the clubhouse. Earlier this week, the Phillies announced that pitching coach Rich Dubee would not be returning, either. That could lead to bullpen coach Rod Nichols being promoted, or the Phillies could go outside the organization to fill the spot.

Billmeyer joined the organization in 2000 as the Minor League catching coordinator, before he joined former manager Larry Bowa's staff as catching instructor in 2004. He served in that role for five seasons, and then he became the bullpen coach in 2009. After four seasons in the 'pen, the Phillies moved him to the dugout as catching coach this year.

Billmeyer, 49, was one of the most well-liked people in the organization because of his high-energy personality, positivity and sense of humor. His attitude was the reason why the Phillies moved him into the dugout.

Besides his regular duties, he simply had a knack for knowing how to keep things loose in the clubhouse. The Astros swept the Phillies in a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park in August 2010 to drop them to three games out of first place in the National League East. The Phillies then flew to San Diego to open a seven-game road trip. Billmeyer, sensing the team was down, had players rolling on the ground in laughter before the series opener at PETCO Park, impersonating pitchers' mannerisms on the mound.

The Phillies swept the series and finished the season 27-8.

Sure, it might have been coincidental, but he frequently brought levity to the clubhouse when players needed it.

Manager Ryne Sandberg must fill the coaching spots vacated by Dubee, Billmeyer and himself. Sandberg was the third-base coach before the Phillies dismissed Charlie Manuel in August.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for

Philadelphia Phillies