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News » Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-09-30

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-09-30

Philadelphia Phillies Inside Pitch 2008-09-30
Long reputed as a players' manager and hailed for his ability to maintain a positive mood in the clubhouse, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel appears to have won over even his staunchest detractors this season by demonstrating that he can be tough and fair and proving that he has the unyielding respect of his players.

Manuel has two rules -- hustle and be on time -- and he benched Jimmy Rollins, the reigning National League MVP, twice during a seven-week span for violating both. Rollins didn't run hard on a pop fly June 5 at Citizens Bank Park and arrived one hour later than the mandated time before a July 24 game in New York. When pitcher Brett Myers pitched a fit after being removed from an Aug. 8 game, Manuel engaged him in a nose-to-nose confrontation in the dugout.

But he refused to embarrass Rollins or Myers by ripping them to the media, and at no time did they question Manuel's authority.

"Charlie's a street-smart guy," general manager Pat Gillick said. "From a common-sense standpoint, he figures out, 'How am I going to deal with this guy?' Rollins knew he violated both rules. Consequently, it was pretty simple. One of (Manuel's) strengths is his relationship with the player. Getting these guys in the proper frame of mind to play every day, that's more important to me."

Said reliever Chad Durbin, "He's a tremendous players' manager. He may get grief here and there for having a Southern accent or whatnot, but he's as bright as anybody. He doesn't miss a thing. You'll be across the room talking to someone, and he'll ask you about it later. He sees everything."

Durbin played for Jim Leyland with the Tigers in 2006 and said the managers are "at different ends of the spectrum" in the way they communicate with players. He said Leyland would walk around the outfield during batting practice and talk with pitchers. Manuel, less formal, often moseys through the clubhouse and stops to chat with players at their locker.

Manuel's approach works. He has a 574-484 record (.543 winning percentage) as a major league manager and has guided teams to three postseason appearances. The only managers in Phillies history to skipper consecutive division-title teams are Danny Ozark (1976-78) and Manuel (2007-08).

"When I went to Minnesota as a player and people up there got to know me, I think I was a pretty popular guy up there," Manuel said. "I feel like I can win anybody over."

Even Phillies fans, the toughest critics of all.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: September 30, 2008

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