Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’
He had something to say about it.
“You can get down if you’re not careful,” he said. “That’s what you don’t want. You’ve got to stay together. You’ve got to keep plugging at it. You’ve got to grind it out. Actually, that’s how you build heart and strength about your team. That’s how you become a team. A lot of times in the second half you notice we play a lot better baseball. And that’s because we stay together and we don’t give up and quit and things like that. Almost every team goes through periods where they’re down. If you’re not careful you will get depressed and you will forget about the main object and that’s winning and you give in and you quit. But if you’re good and you’ve got heart and you want to win and you want to try, just stay together. It’s not how many times you get knocked down – I think Vince Lombardi said it – it’s how many times you get back up. When you’re struggling that’s when you really stay together.”
It sounded like he was saying the Phillies are showing those tendencies, getting down, getting depressed, giving up.
“I’m not saying that we’re quitting,” he said. “Not at all. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is we’re in that period right now where we start doubting ourselves instead of just keep firing. You stay aggressive and keep working on trying to find a good ball to hit and not try to overdo it. Just stay within yourself and do something. Just try to score one run. Do something. Just keep going. Never get down. Play 27 outs. A lot of times when you’re young and there’s not a lot of expectation for them they’ll keep playing and you’ll say, ‘Hey, they hustle. They battle. They keep playing.’ A lot of times when you’ve got a lot of experience and things get tough you kind of get in position because of how long you’ve played and how many years you’ve been in the game that you kind of look up and see the score and you say, ‘It’s going to be hard for us to win.’ That’s kind of a negative. Say we’re talking about hitting. You don’t give no at-bats away. I’m not going 0-for-4. If I’m 0-for-2 or 0-for-3 the last time I’m up I want 1-for-4 or 1-for-3. I don’t care what the score is. You stay together and you keep fighting. And that’s what you’ve got to do. But if you don’t well that’s kind of sending a message of what kind of player that you are. That’s how I look at it. Like I said, I played for 20 years. I’ve been on a lot of teams. Your character is revealed. They say the game builds character. I don’t know about building, but it’ll definitely reveal your character. Does that makes sense? And that’s kind of what you see. You’ve got to fight to really not go there. Once that you get there you’ve got to do some real hard searching to get back to where you should be and things. That’s what I believe.”
A couple facts:
- The Phillies have been shut out six times in 43 games. They were shut out six times last season.
- They have scored two or fewer runs in 17 games. Only the Marlins (26) and Nationals (20) have had more punchless nights.
- They have allowed 10 or more runs six times to lead the Majors.
- The bullpen has allowed a mind-blowing 25 of 52 (48 percent) base runners to score, easily the worst mark in baseball.
Roy Halladay felt soreness in his right shoulder following his April 24 start in Pittsburgh, but said nothing until yesterday after he had allowed a combined 17 runs in six innings (25.50 ERA) in his last two starts.
Some people thought Halladay should have told the Phillies immediately. Charlie Manuel feels differently.
“I’ve been around the game a long time,” Manuel said before tonight’s game at AT&T Park. “I never liked to tell anyone I couldn’t play. If you asked me if I could play, I would have never told you I couldn’t. You know? I don’t want to get into that. I played with a broken arm, I played with a whole lot of things. I got hit in the face and my lip was over my eye and I missed one day. I would never tell you I couldn’t play. So, yeah, I could understand that. He felt he could go out there and still pitch. He wasn’t thinking about not pitching bad or something like that; he wanted to try. Roy is an upstanding guy, a straight guy. Hey, there should be more guys like that. You say, ‘Well he’s hurt, he’s hurt.’ But evidently he didn’t feel that way, he felt like he could play. Nowadays guys, they get out of the game real easy. That means he has some integrity, that the game means something to him, that he wanted to see if he could help us. It wasn’t like he was trying to hurt us. Knowing him like I do, he thought he could pitch.”
I understand both sides to the argument, but here’s my take: Either you want players to try to play through pain or you don’t. That’s it. There is no gray area. You can’t say, “Well, because Halladay struggled he should have told them immediately after the Pittsburgh game and been placed on the DL.”
What if Halladay thought he could pitch through it (he did) and performed well? Fans would have called him a gamer. In fact, remember Game 5 of the 2010 NLCS? Halladay strained his groin early in the game. You could tell immediately something was wrong. Should he have pulled himself from the game, even though he thought he could pitch through it? He was hurt, after all. No, Halladay stayed in the game, gutted out a win and extended the series. Fans applauded Chase Utley for playing through a hip injury in 2008. Nobody said, “Well, Chase really shouldn’t have played if he wasn’t 100 percent. He could have hurt the team.”
In both cases the players felt they could compete, so they tried to compete. Twice they succeeded. Once they failed. But you can’t pick and choose when the player pulls himself from competition. They’re not wired that way. They’ll always try first. Always.
“It’s Charlie!” a few strangers behind him shouted.
“That kind of felt good,” Manuel said with a chuckle.
Manuel, 69, remains a well-known figure in Cleveland. He managed the Indians from 2000-02, and served as their hitting coach in 1988-89 and 1994-99. He recalled his best times with the Indians before tonight’s game at Progressive Field, including trips to the World Series in 1995 and 1997. But he also talked about other things, like his desire to keep managing and how former Indians and Phillies slugger Jim Thome is doing.
Manuel’s contract with the Phillies expires after the season.
“I want to manage as long as I can,” he said. “I’ve never told nobody I was going to retire. We’ll see. … I’m not worried about nothing. I want to keep managing.”
(Manuel saying he wants to continue managing beyond this season is nothing new. He has been saying this since the Winter Meetings. But it seems every time a writer asks him and he says it, it gets turned into a headline, so I thought I’d include it here.)
Thome is hoping to continue his career, but so far he has not found a job. He called Manuel a couple weeks ago and asked if he could swing by the clubhouse in the future.
“You can come and live with me,” Manuel said he responded. “I hope he does. … He still thinks he can play. He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He’s kind of having a hard time adjusting.”
He finally split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with right-handed-hitting Michael Young.
I think it was long overdue.
Theoretically, it should make life more difficult for left-handed pitchers. Utley entered the game against the Pirates hitting .125 (2-for-16) with one triple, one RBI, two walks and five strikeouts against lefties this season. Howard entered the night hitting .111 (2-for-18) with two doubles, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts against them.
But their struggles against lefties are not coming from a small sample size. Utley has hit .197 with a .634 OPS against lefties from 2011-13. Howard has hit .199 with a .608 OPS against lefties in that span.
They essentially have been automatic outs against lefties for two-plus seasons. Young has not been much better this year, hitting .200 (3-for-15) against lefties, although he has a much more than respectable .832 OPS against them from 2011-13. But simply having a right-handed hitter between Utley and Howard will make opposing managers think a little more late in games. Before Wednesday, managers could just run a left-handed reliever to the mound to face Utley and Howard in succession. Now the lefty will have to face a right-handed hitter, or the manager has to remove him from the game, if he does not want him facing Young.
“I can see how that would be beneficial,” Utley said.
It also makes perfect sense to keep this look against right-handed starting pitchers, too, but Manuel was noncommittal.
“I could,” he said. “It depends how we match up.”
He absolutely should use this look against right-handers, too. By having Utley and Howard hit back-to-back against a right-handed starter the Phillies essentially are banking on getting to the starter in the first five or six innings. If they don’t, which often has been the case this season, things get easy again for the opposing manager late in the game.
Can the Phillies hit a fastball? Can they hit, period?
He would like to find out.
“We’re going to see if they can hit,” he said following a 2-0 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. “Believe me, I’m pulling for every one of them. But that’s what we’re going to see.”
For nearly two weeks Manuel has watched the Phillies fall short offensively. They have scored just 31 runs in their past 12 games, including their third shutout loss of the season tonight. Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke did little to impress Manuel, who said Locke did nothing “fantastic.” But he still dominated his hitters.
“He challenged us,” Manuel said. “If I went up there and looked fastball, I would have gotten good balls to hit. We’ve got to hit some of those fastballs. I hope that don’t put a lot of pressure on somebody.”
The Phillies made that clear today at Citizens Bank Park, where Ruben Amaro Jr. said Halladay gets as long as he needs to correct himself, and Charlie Manuel said he is completely committed to his former ace.
Manuel offered an example of just how long his leash can be.
“You guys used to get on me about Brad Lidge,” he said, referring to Lidge’s 2009 season when he went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and 11 blown saves. “I used to look down there, and to me Brad Lidge was probably the best I had. If I was going to lose the game it was going to be Brad Lidge. I was committed to Brad Lidge. If I commit to you then I commit to you. And whatever happens is going to happen. That’s kind of how I look at it.”
Halladay has a ghastly 14.73 ERA through two starts, which follows struggles in Spring Training and struggles in 2012. He has allowed 12 hits, 12 runs, six walks, three home runs, one hit batter, two wild pitches and struck out 12 in just 7 1/3 innings this season.
Amaro and Manuel said they never considered holding back Halladay, having him pitch in extended Spring Training games before he was better prepared to pitch in the Phillies rotation. To have him pitch extended Spring Training games, the Phillies would have needed to place him on the disabled list, but Amaro said Halladay is not injured.
In fact, he said Halladay has not been on the team’s daily injury report once this year.
“Roy felt he was physically ready to go,” Amaro said. “There wasn’t anything real alarming.”
“Roy has earned the right to tell us how he feels, and how he wants to go about certain things when it comes to his routine and his pitching and things like that,” Manuel added. “We never once thought about shutting him down or nothing. I can tell you that. You know something else? Shutting him down ain’t the right way, either. I don’t see no way in the world, if he’s healthy and everything like that, we shut him down.”
But organized infield and outfield work during the season had become so sporadic that any structured pregame practice at all stood out like a sore thumb. The Phillies picked up those sessions a bit following last season’s July 31 Trade Deadline, but they typically were limited to the first game of every home series.
That is changing. They already had practices Friday and yesterday and have another scheduled tomorrow as Phillies third base coach and infield instructor Ryne Sandberg makes them part of the team’s routine. He said they will be 20-minute sessions as needed and as he sees fit before home games.
“That’s what I do,” Sandberg said. “That’s what I like to see happen. It’s a stress on defense. It allows us to have time to work on things. It’ll be something that will be stressed throughout the whole year.”
The Phillies took ground balls regularly in the past, but it typically occurred during batting practice. Charlie Manuel calls this a more structured, more hands-on setup that allows for more discussion and teaching. The sessions are mandatory.
He likes it.
“The fact it is more organized, it gives you time to talk to get your points across as far as mistakes we’ve made or things we want to improve on,” Manuel said. “It’s a little bit stricter coaching and I like that. I like everything about that.”
But structured practices do seem to be a rare occurrence in baseball these days, not only with the Phillies, but every team.
“I don’t think getting away from it is a good thing,” Sandberg said. “Having it is a very positive thing. In my day we took infield every day, except for day games. I think it’s something that’s necessary to stay sharp and stay on top of things. We’ll also have the outfielders join us and throw to the bases, probably twice a homestand or something like that. It’s for everybody to stay sharp on defense. It’s a big part of the game. To work on it and stress it becomes important.”
Young had trouble with a couple balls in Monday’s season opener against the Braves at Turner Field. He had a ball go off his glove in the fourth inning that was ruled a double. He later had another ground ball pop out of his glove. He made the throw to first, with Ryan Howard making a nice pick to get the out. But because of the bobble, he could not get a force out at second.
“He’s going to bobble some balls,” Manuel said. “Everybody we put over there is going to bobble some balls. Brooks Robinson used to bobble balls. That’s part of the game. When somebody says he has trouble fielding just because a ball gets by him or he bobbles a ball, it doesn’t mean he’s not a good fielder. That’s one. If you sit there and see him boxing three or four a game or something, then yeah we’ve got a major problem. But Michael is fine there.”
They settled on their utility infielders today.
They announced they had released Yuniesky Betancourt as requested. He had hit .447 (21-for-47) with three doubles, one home run, 14 RBIs, a .451 on-base percentage and a .574 slugging percentage in 18 Grapefruit League games. The Phillies had signed Betancourt to a Minor League contract with an opt-out clause, stating they had to place him on the big-league roster by Sunday or release him if he requested it. His agent Alex Esteban said Betancourt officially requested his release.
The Phillies essentially chose Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen over Betancourt.
“This was the evaluation, right or wrong, of what we thought was best for our club,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Better to have this decision — too many players — than not having enough.”
He had just smashed a baseball onto the thatched roof of the mini-tiki bar in left field for a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Phillies a 7-6 victory over the Braves. The ball bounced off the roof, out of the ballpark and onto the MLB Network satellite truck below. It was a nice moment for Ruf, who had struggled early this spring as he competed for a job in the Phillies outfield. But before Ruf had a chance to enjoy the moment, the Phillies called him into manager Charlie Manuel’s office and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ll be pulling for him,” Manuel said. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll see him here (this season). It depends on how our offense goes. He’s capable of being a really good hitter.”