Larry Bowa’s long speculated return to the Phillies organization is moving closer to becoming a reality. A baseball source tells that Bowa is nearing an agreement to become the club’s new bench coach. Bowa has previously had three tours of duty with the Phillies as an All-Star shortstop coach and manager. The 67-year-old Bowa is a close friend and confidant of new Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. They were traded together from the Phillies to the Chicago Cubs in 1982 and played side-by-side in the Cubs’ infield. Sandberg has long credited Bowa for being a positive mentor as he learned to play second base -- and become a Hall of Famer -- in Chicago. The Phillies have three openings on their coaching staff: Bench coach pitching coach and third base coach. Catching coach Mick Billmeyer served as the de facto bench coach in 2013. His contract was not renewed. Pitching coach Rich Dubee’s contract was not renewed after nine seasons. Juan Samuel served as the temporary third base coach after Sandberg moved from that position to manager in August. When the season ended in Atlanta two weekends ago Sandberg said putting together a coaching staff was his first order of business. People close to Sandberg have said that he wanted Bowa on the staff. The challenge was convincing the front office to bring back Bowa for a fourth tour of duty. Bowa who played 12 seasons with the Phils and managed them for another four (2001-2004) has had some messy breakups with the club in the past but always seems to find his way back. In September as rumors of a possible return swirled Bowa visited Sandberg during batting practice at Citizens Bank Park. Bowa was vague when asked about the possibility of joining Sandberg’s coaching staff. “Let’s just say this: I like what I’m doing” said Bowa an analyst for the MLB Network since 2011. “Do I miss the game? Yeah. I miss a lot of parts of it. But that’s something that Ryno and Ruben Amaro and David Montgomery have to figure it out.”