Lopes undecided about his future
Phils first-base coach's contract runs out after season
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- One thing Jayson Werth said Monday is that he would like to steal more bases this season.
And that means listening and learning from Phillies first-base coach Davey Lopes, who has been the team's basestealing guru since he arrived following the 2006 season.
But in the midst of Werth calling Lopes the best first-base coach in baseball history, he also mentioned that this might be Lopes' final season in baseball. Lopes said later that he has made no decisions about his future.
"It's hard to say," Lopes said. "One of these years, I will retire. If I leave, I will leave to retire -- not to go to another club. I'll know when it's time to go. Is it getting close? Probably so. ... I'm going to be 65."
Lopes, who turns 65 on May 3, is in the final year of his contract with the Phillies.
His presence in Philadelphia has been invaluable. The Phils have an 84.5 stolen-base percentage the past three seasons, which easily leads baseball. (The Rangers are second at 78.7 percent). The Phillies set a Major League record with an 87.9 stolen base percentage in 2007. Their 84.5 percent mark in '08 ranks second in baseball history.
Players like Werth, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley talk about Lopes like he is the Jedi Master of basestealing. One wonders what would happen to the team's basestealing fortunes when he leaves.
"I'm like a crutch," Lopes said. "It's nice to have around. When I'm not here, when that time comes, they'll be OK. They'll get used to it."
Lopes missed time in 2008 for treatment for prostate cancer, but he said he is healthy.
"I'm having more fun now than I have in a long, long time," Lopes said. "When we won the World Series, I was more elated than when I actually played in it. I've been fortunate. These last three years have probably been the best of my career as far as a coaching standpoint."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.