Irked Manuel rants about offense, inconsistency

Irked Manuel rants about offense, inconsistency

June 12, 2013, 8:45 pm
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MINNEAPOLIS – Charlie Manuel was unusually testy in his daily briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

In a way, it was understandable. Manuel’s team lost its fourth straight game to a last-place club on Tuesday night. The Phils were beaten 3-2 by Minnesota in that game. It was the 23rd time in 65 games that the Phils scored two or fewer runs.

The Phillies are averaging just 3.65 runs per game, fourth from the bottom in the NL, and they’ve wasted a lot of good starting pitching. Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley remain on the disabled list and Ryan Howard, counted on to be the team’s main home run and RBI threat, is hitting just .224 with one homer and 11 RBIs in his last 28 games (98 at-bats). Howard has struck out 37 times over that span and walked just 11.

Manuel said he suspected some of Howard’s problems were related to a sore left knee, but Howard was in the field, at first base, and not at DH, for the second night in a row Wednesday, so the knee feels good enough to play on.

Manuel is reluctant to move Howard out of the cleanup hole because he does not want to send that message to Howard and he believes Howard will eventually break loose.

But that hasn’t stopped reporters from asking about a possible move out of the four-hole.

Wednesday afternoon, Manuel seemed to have enough of the questions.

“How many runs did we score last night?” Manuel huffed. “Howard knocked in one of them. Who’s going to hit there?”

When it was suggested the Domonic Brown could get a look, Manuel spat, “I could put anybody in there, OK? Really, if you think about it. I’ll do the managing. Whoever hits there, hits there.”

A question about Howard’s drop in power sent Manuel on a rant about his team’s offense.

“Of course I’m concerned,” he said. “I’m concerned with everybody. Hey look, I’m concerned with every bleeping player I got. Yeah, I’m concerned.

“I want to win. We say that we want to win the division and we want to go to the World Series, right? I’m concerned about every one of our guys. I’m concerned about that .245 or .248 team batting average. I’m concerned about that.

“I’m not only concerned about one guy, I’m concerned about them all. How about that? I don’t know what I can do about it. I can go back to my room and sit there and look at the walls, and get up and come to the ballpark and look at the walls. I don’t know what I can do about it. The only thing I can do is to put them out there and let them play.”

Howard is hitting .256 with seven homers, 31 RBIs and a .298 on-base percentage in 215 at-bats. He hit .322/7/16/.351 in 87 at-bats during spring training. That performance led to predictions of a big season for Howard, but so far it hasn’t happened.

The mention of spring training led to a little more ranting from Big Chuck.

“There is a huge difference between regular season and spring training,” he said. “There’s a huge difference in the way you play, there’s a huge difference in the way they hit, in the pitching – everything. A veteran pitcher, he’s down there to get going. He’ll throw fastballs 70 to 80 percent of the time. Just because you have a big spring – what is a big spring? It’s 70 at-bats, some get 30 or 40 at-bats. You guys write about how good they did, he gets 30 at-bats, gets 12 or 13 hits, guy bats .330, .340, and it’s, ‘Look how good a spring this guy is having.’ Thirty at-bats is nothing.”

OK.

“Baseball is baseball,” Manuel continued. “Just because you hit yesterday doesn’t mean you’re going to hit today, and just because you hit last year doesn’t mean you’re going to hit this year. I’m not telling you anything you shouldn’t know. This is the history of the game. There’s a reason why we win and lose games. And most times we get outplayed when we lose. The bottom line, when you start going through the forest, you just go right through it and you can just tell it like it is.”

Manuel was asked if his bad mood was the result of reporters’ questions or the way his team has been playing.

“It’s a little of both, probably,” he said. “We’re inconsistent performance-wise. And when you’ve got that, it’s hard. We won five games in a row, then we lose four. That’s kind of how we’ve been playing.”

That was the end of Manuel’s rant.

And that’s the end of this story.