In one capacity or another, Charlie Manuel has been around the game of baseball for a long time. He's seen it from every level and every angle, working in the minors, the majors and even in the Japanese League. He's seen the greats of the game and he's seen players, managers and general managers come and go. He's a pure, simple, self-described "baseball guy" who had a very unnoticeable Major League career with the Twins and Dodgers. The 'Mendoza Line' could have very well been the 'Manuel Line' had some broadcaster had the insight to coin the phrase during Manuel's playing days from 1969-1975 when he hit .198 in The Show. From there, he's gone on to be recognized as one of the better hitting coaches of the game and possibly as one of the more unheralded managers in the game, managing for six seasons and finishing first or second in the division in five of those six seasons.
While Manuel didn't possess great talent for the game, he knows how to spot and coach talent and he knows and respects pure talent. "These guys that are doing these things [performance enhancing drugs] are cheating themselves and the game," said Manuel. "I want this game cleaned up." Manuel is a simple sort of guy, who has been much maligned for his lack of an ability to speak in clear, concise ways. The truth is though that Manuel doesn't worry about looking good. He doesn't worry about doing things that will make him look better than what he is. What you see and hear from Manuel is what he is and all that you're going to get and he expects the same from players. "I have more respect for a guy who trains hard and does what he can to make himself better but comes up short than I do for these guys who use this junk that's out there," said the Phillies manager. So, what does he think should be done about players who set records, but have been accused of using performance enhancing drugs? "At the end of the day, they have to look at themselves and they have to live with the reality of what they've done. Anyone who thinks that they accomplished anything by using those drugs is wrong. All they've done is hurt the game."
"For me, I'm definitely a baseball guy and what I want is, I want our game cleaned up," pleaded Manuel. "I don't know if I have the answers or not, but at the same time, after the length of time that I've been in the game, I want the game to be played on a fair basis."
Manuel's thoughts on other issues:
On Chris Snelling... "He's a lot like Greg Dobbs. He had a big spring for us and made the team and really wound up doing a lot for us and got some big hits. Snelling's kinda like that. He was in Seattle's organization and followed almost the same kind of pattern that Dobbs came to us under. I've been watching him hit in the cage the last couple days and he's got a real good swing and looks like a John Kruk kind of hitter and I like the way he swings the bat."
On Greg Golson... "He's a young guy who has great potential for us. He's an outfielder and he can really run and play center field. He needs a little more success with the hitting, but at the same time, he has the tools to be a good player."
Who are some of the pitching prospects that excite you?... "I haven't seen all of our pitching prospects, but I've seen [Carlos] Carrasco and he's a real good, smooth pitcher whose got some real good upside. [Josh] Outman is a guy that I haven't seen pitch in person, but I've heard a lot of good things about him. We picked up Blackley in the Rule 5 Draft and he's supposed to be a pretty good pitcher. Of course, we got Chad Durbin and I saw Chad pitch a lot in the American League, especially when he first came up with Kansas City, and he started 19 games last year for Detroit and pitched out of their bullpen some. J.D. Durbin was with us late in the year and he has the stuff and ability to be a good pitcher."
Is he more confident about the team this year than he was last year?... "Yes, I feel that first of all, we got a little taste and we went through a lot of adversity last year and we were resilient and we had a good attitude. A guy would get hurt and we'd plug somebody in and he'd do a job for us and that's what it takes sometimes to develop a winning team and a winning attitude. Right now, I feel that coming into Spring Training, our pitching is better than what it was last year, although we had thought that we had taken care of our starting situation when we signed Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia, but then our rotation kind of struggled. Once we plugged [Kyle] Kendrick into our rotation and got J.C. Romero, that's when we started coming along and we started winning some games. And I think right now, we're a little bit ahead of where we were."
How is Adam Eaton doing?... "I've heard he's got a trainer and a physical fitness guy and he's been working out real hard and that he's been really trying to make sure that he's healthy and that his arm is healthy and he'll be able to be the pitcher that we thought he was going to be when we signed him."