Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’

Long Overdue: Utley and Howard Split Up in Lineup

Rob McElhenney Talks Utley, Howard and PhilliesCharlie Manuel made a noticeable change to his lineup today at Citizens Bank Park.

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? Manuel Wants to Know

Manuel on Brown, Werth and MoreTonight’s loss left Charlie Manuel wondering what everybody else seems to be wondering.

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.”

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Doc Will Get His Chances

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for more than a decade, so he has earned the right to pitch through his problems, if he can.

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.”

Practice? Yes, Sandberg Is Talking About Practice

Ryne SandbergBig leaguers need practice, too.

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.”

Manuel Back Young at Third

Michael YoungCharlie Manuel reiterated he is completely confident in Michael Young’s abilities to play third base.

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.”

Betancourt Released; Galvis and Frandsen Win Jobs

Yuniesky BetancourtThe Phillies opened Spring Training last month with jobs available in the bullpen, outfield and infield.

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.”

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Ruf Optioned to Work on Defense

Darin RufDarin Ruf smiled brightly as he touched home plate this afternoon at Bright House Field.

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.”

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Betancourt Decision Coming Soon

Yuniesky Betancourt

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the competition for the team’s two utility infield jobs remains wide open with less than a week remaining before they need to make a decision.

Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt are fighting for those jobs, but because Betancourt has an opt-clause he must be informed by Sunday if he has made the 25-man roster. If he has not, he can ask to be released.

Galvis is hitting .273 (15-for-55) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs and eight RBIs. He is the best defender of the three, and Charlie Manuel has been vocal in his support. Frandsen has had a good spring offensively, hitting .298 (14-for-47) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs. Betancourt went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in today’s 17-10 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium. He is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with three doubles and nine RBIs.

“I think they’ve all played well enough to be on our club, so it has to be wide open,” Amaro said, “Defense is still important, but obviously it’s the total package of the player. All three of them have played very well. I’m happy with all three of them.”

Asked if he can make up his mind in the next six days, Manuel said, “I can make up my mind in two seconds.”

But has he?

“No, I haven’t,” Manuel said. “Everything comes into play. It kind of depends on where we want to go and what we see on our team. Really. We’ve got a good battle there, man.”

Watch Those Tricycles, Charlie!

Charlie Manuel occasionally reminds people he has been in baseball 50 years.

In other words, he has seen almost everything.

But it took until this afternoon for a grown man pedaling a tricycle to crash into him on the field. The Houston Astros had a mid-inning tricycle race between two men, who pedaled from the Astros dugout down the third-base line past the Phillies dugout down the first-base line. One of the contestants steered his tricycle smack into Manuel, who was seated on the warning track between pitching coach Rich Dubee and catching coach Mick Billmeyer.

Billmeyer and Dubee nearly collapsed from laughing.

Manuel chuckled a bit, too.

“That three-wheeler got me,” Manuel said after the 7-1 victory at Osceola County Stadium. “I saw him, man. I thought, ‘He better get over.’ He got me. He ran over me with a three-wheeler. Dubee was supposed to stop him there, isn’t he? He’s supposed to save me. He let me get run over. He said, ‘Go ahead, hit him.’ He ran over my toes too, man.”

Years from now nobody will remember the details of this game. But everyone will remember the time some dude rolled over Manuel’s foot on a trike.

“Watch those tricycles, Charlie!” Phillies front office advisor Dallas Green said afterward.

 

Another Good Day for Brown (Hand Not Included)

Domonic Brown gets his hand stepped on and still hits.

He went 2-for-3 today in a 3-2 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. He singled sharply to left field in the first inning. But once he got to first, Rays first baseman James Loney stepped on Brown’s right hand as he dove back to first base.

It left a mark, but he stayed in the game after getting the hand treated. He singled to left in the third.

“It’s all good,” Brown said.

Brown is hitting .424 this spring. Charlie Manuel once again called Brown the biggest bright spot in Phillies camp.

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