PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Charlie Manuel was back in red pinstripes in his old dugout with a new role as hitting coach exactly six years to the day he managed his last game for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Manuel joined the Phillies on Wednesday, one day after he was hired to replace John Mallee. The 75-year-old Manuel was working as a senior adviser to general manager Matt Klentak before he got the call asking him to put the uniform back on and help revive an underachieving offense.
“The Phillies pay me and I didn’t feel I should turn somebody down that wanted me and I’m already working for them,” Manuel said. “I’m excited about it. It’s a challenge. I’ve never been scared about that, especially when it comes to hitting. That’s one of my favorite things to talk about.”
Manuel is beloved in Philadelphia after leading the team to five straight NL East titles, two NL pennants and the franchise’s second World Series championship, in 2008. He won more games (780) than any manager in team history and has 1,000 career wins, including three seasons with the Cleveland Indians.
He was fired during his only losing season in Philadelphia, and many fans would like to see the folksy skipper back in charge. Second-year manager Gabe Kapler has been intensely criticized by fans and some media for his “new-school” philosophies.
“I’m not interested in managing,” Manuel said. “I’ll make that clear right now. Something would have to go really big for me to change my mind.”
Kapler spoke to Manuel after he arrived in Philadelphia and praised his communication skills and ability to relate to younger players.
“It’s authenticity,” Kapler said. “The age gap is irrelevant and insignificant when there’s a lot of care and authenticity and I think Charlie brings those things in spades.”
The Phillies are 20th in the majors in runs (4.7 per game), 24th in batting average (.245) and 23rd in home runs (150) despite a lineup filled with proven hitters, including Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez.
“We’re inconsistent,” Manuel said. “We have to get back to enjoy playing the game and enjoy situational hitting, do things correct, move the runners, have a lot of fun. I think the environment can be different as far as talking to the guys and letting them talk to me. We need to get better. We have a talented team.”