Manuel Hired to Lead Phillies

The hunt for a manager is officially over. The Phillies will introduce former Indians manager Charlie Manuel as their 50th manager at a press conference at Citizen's Bank Park Thursday afternoon. Manuel will again be managing Jim Thome, who he helped to become a better hitter while the two were both in Cleveland. Manuel is known as a player's manager, something which was a top priority for the Phillies.

Charlie Manuel will be introduced as the next manager of the Phillies at a news conference Thursday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Manuel, 60, managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000 through 2002. He takes over an underachieving team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1993. Manuel is not new to the Phillies organization, having spent the past two seasons working as a special assistant to general manager Ed Wade.

On Tuesday, the Phillies identified Manuel, Jim Leyland and Jim Fregosi as the leading candidates for the job and asked Manuel to return to Philadelphia. The two sides quickly and quietly worked out contract details Wednesday afternoon, prior to announcing the Thursday press conference.

Manuel compiled a 220-190 record with the Indians and led them to a division championship in 2001. The Indians fired Manuel the next season after a slow 39-47 start.

In contrast to Bowa, Manuel is known as a player's manager and is close with first baseman Jim Thome, who joined the Phillies shortly before Manuel came on with the organization. Thome credits Manuel with helping him become a better hitter while Manuel was the Indians hitting coach. Manuel is also noted for having a very relaxed personality.

In addition to Manuel, Leyland and Fregosi, the Phillies interviewed Grady Little, Don Baylor, Buddy Bell, Terry Pendleton and John Russell. Leyland was thought to be the front runner, with Manuel and Fregosi lagging just behind. However, Manuel had been considered the favorite from the time that Bowa's future with the club seemed to be in jeopardy during the season.

While Manuel is thought of as a hitting guru, his major league numbers fell way short of where most of his proteges have finished. In 242 major league games, Manuel hit .198 in parts of seven seasons with Minnesota and Los Angeles.

No immediate word was given on coaches who may join Manuel's staff. Bench coach Gary Varsho and first baseman Milt Thompson, along with hitting coach Greg Gross have been retained, but might be reassigned, depending on who Manuel and Wade agree to have on the staff. Gary Ruby, who has worked with many of the Phillies young pitchers in their minor league system is a favorite to be the pitching coach and one rumor has AAA manager Marc Bombard joining the major league staff as well.

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