Manuel's Personality Just What the Doctor Ordered

<b>ANAHEIM</b> – The minute you meet Charlie Manuel, there's one refreshing characteristic that washes over you. This man is not Larry Bowa.

This personality trait certainly didn't hurt Manuel's chances at landing the managerial job with the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that had failed to respond to Bowa's fiery, aggravating ways and had teetered on the brink of an outright mutiny.

"I am who I am," Manuel smiles gently, kicking back in his chair like a father about to tell a bedtime story. "I have my own personality. I have a passion and love for baseball. I try to communicate with all of my players. I want to get to know them and know what makes them click."

That's a little better than Bowa, who instead tried to inspire his Phillies players like a low-rent version of R. Lee Ermey's character in 'Full Metal Jacket'.

With Bowa pacing the dugout, throwing temper tantrums like a 6-year-old child at Toys R' Us, the stacked and talented Phillies – considered by some to be the best team in the National League East on paper – were instead more of a Phlop, finishing 86-76 and eventually costing Bowa his job.

It's a manner in which Manuel said that he didn't "think I could do my job," refreshing news for the Phillies as they try to turn things around in 2005.

A longtime baseball personality who has come full circle from the field to the front offices to scouting and back, Manuel managed the perennially contending Cleveland Indians to a 220-191 record over two-plus years beginning in 2000. He now assumes the task of guiding Philadelphia to the promised land of the postseason.

"A lot of [players] were kind of slow to tell me how they felt," Manuel said of Bowa's tenure. "Once I started talking to them, they wanted to get to feel me out, to know where I'm coming from. Players don't usually like to talk about staff members."

Except in this case. Several players went on the record regarding how the Phillies' clubhouse wasn't conducive to winning, most scathingly catcher Tyler Houston.

"That has nothing to do with me," Manuel shrugs.

Some things are probably best left in the past.

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