PHOENIX -- Trey Hillman, who was fired on May 13 as manager of the Kansas City Royals, has emerged as a strong candidate to become the bench coach for incoming Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Wednesday evening on the condition of anonymity.
Hillman was one of a handful of possible Dodgers coaches who joined owner Frank McCourt, general manager Ned Colletti and several members of the team's front office in the stands at an Arizona Fall League game on Wednesday between the Mattingly-managed Phoenix Desert Dogs -- a team whose roster also includes several Dodgers prospects -- and the Peoria Javelinas at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.
Also part of that group were Tim Wallach, who has signed to join the Dodgers' major league staff if he isn't hired to manage the Milwaukee Brewers, and Jeff Pentland, who is likely to become the Dodgers' primary hitting coach after spending the past two-plus seasons as a secondary hitting instructor.
While the Dodgers' efforts to fill out Mattingly's coaching staff have been kept private, Colletti and Mattingly have said they prefer to hire a bench coach with major league managerial experience, and Hillman fits that requirement.
His two-plus seasons at the helm of the Royals weren't especially successful -- the club finished fourth in the American League Central in 2008 and 2009 with records of 75-87 and 65-97, respectively, and was 12-23 when Hillman was replaced by Ned Yost early in 2010. But Hillman had a strong track record managing the Sapporo-based Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League, guiding them to a Japanese championship in 2006.
Hillman, 47, potentially would join a staff that includes Wallach and probably Pentland; incumbents Rick Honeycutt as pitching coach and Ken Howell as bullpen coach; and Manny Mota and possibly Chili Davis as hitting instructors. There are no indications as to what the Dodgers plan to do at first base. Mariano Duncan, their first base coach for the past five seasons under both Grady Little and Joe Torre, isn't expected to return.
Last month, Hillman told former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, who writes a column for mlb.com, he was hoping to get back into the game this winter.
"My contract with the Royals is up in October, and I look forward to exploring opportunities,'' Hillman told Claire. "The only thing I'm really looking for is a place where I can contribute.''
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.