Manuel makes 2 things clear as he rejoins Phils

Longtime skipper back as hitting coach, 'just till the end of the season'

August 15th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel looked perfectly at home behind the batting cage Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, leaning against the cage, wearing the same red pullover that he seemingly has worn for years.

Manuel had started his new job as the Phillies' new hitting coach. He replaced John Mallee, whom the team dismissed Tuesday. It is a move the Phillies hope sparks an underachieving offense and propels the team to a National League Wild Card. Manuel has 43 games to try to make a difference. He believes he can. He is not afraid to try.

"I'm excited about it," Manuel said before the Phillies' 11-1 victory over the Cubs. "I think it's a challenge. I like that. I've never been scared of anything like that, especially when it comes to hitting. It's one of my favorite things to talk about it. I'm looking forward to it."

Manuel is 75. He managed his final game with the Phillies on Aug. 14, 2013, exactly six years ago. He has a 2008 World Series championship ring. He has a 2009 NL championship ring. He helped the Phillies win five consecutive NL East titles from 2007-11. He has won more games than any other manager in franchise history.

He did not need to take the job, but he did.

"It boiled down to the fact that I work for the Phillies," Manuel said. "I definitely felt like I should take the position. It's one of my strong suits.

"I know [the players]. I've been in Spring Training. I sit and watch the games every day. If I'm not here in the ballpark, I'm watching them on TV or on my phone. I see most all of their at-bats. I feel like I know a lot about them. I like the Phillies. I like the people I work for. I love the fans. I can't believe how good I get treated here. The Phillies pay me. I didn't feel like I should turn somebody down that wanted me, and I'm already working for them."

Manuel made two things clear Wednesday. First, he does not expect things to be awkward being in the same dugout with manager Gabe Kapler, who has one year remaining on his contract and is under pressure to get this talented, but flawed, team to the postseason.

"I'm 75 years old," Manuel said. "I don't think anything bothers me anymore. That's what I think. This job here -- I got a good way of doing it. I still get a kick out of watching good baseball. I'd love for us to get into the playoffs and actually win another World Series. Any way I can help I want to do that. I'm going to do everything I possibly can for us to improve."

Second, he is not angling on becoming the Phillies' next manager or serving as hitting coach beyond this season.

"I'm not interested in managing," he said. "I'll make that clear to you right now. I'm not interested in managing at all. Something would have to go really big for me to change my mind. I'm 75 years old. I still think I can talk hitting and I think I can get somebody to put the ball on the tee and things like that. Managing is not in my vocabulary or forte at all.

"It's just till the end of the season. We didn't talk about anything else -- just about the hitting till the end of the season. That's fine with me. That's the way I like it, really."

Of course, everybody wants to know how Manuel's teaching methods will differ from the Phillies' analytical approach to hitting, which is taught from the Majors to the Minor Leagues. He might not talk about exit velocity and launch angle, but he believes he will have no problems communicating with players.

Communicating has never been an issue with Manuel. He helps players feel confident. He helps them relax.

It often leads to improved performance.

"I don't think I'll have any problems," he said. "I know what a launch angle is, I know what my version of a launch angle is. Everyone has a different way of saying things and presenting things. I'm a basic guy and a conventional-style teacher. When I say basic, I'm a top-to-bottom hitter and I have a simple approach at the plate. That would be my perfect example of a swing, but the best and biggest part about it is that I work with that guy's talent.

"It gets back to 'know thyself.' I think I know every swing in baseball. Really, I think that. I believe that. Definitely, as a hitting coach or as a baseball guy, I think I'm proven, and I hope you don't take that as bragging or anything because I'm not. Baseball is a funny game and I just happened to land here today. That's how I look at it. I have a job to do, and I'm going to set out to do it."