Salisbury: Manuel refuses to be a distraction
Charlie Manuel, 70, has been in pro baseball since 1963. (USA Today Images)
Charlie Manuel’s affiliation with the Phillies began in spring training 2003 when he started a stint as a front office adviser, scout and minor-league hitting instructor with the team.
More than a decade later, Manuel has come full circle. Over the sting of being fired as the team’s manager in August, Manuel accepted a position with the team last week.
He again will be a front office adviser, scout and minor-league hitting instructor.
But, unlike 2003, when he first joined the organization, Manuel will not be in spring training with the club.
Not this year, at least.
“I don’t want to be a distraction,” Manuel said in a telephone conversation Saturday. “I don’t think that would be good for anyone. It’s a timing thing. I want to let a little more time pass. I’ll know when it’s time.”
Manuel was let go on Aug. 16, just four days after notching his 1,000th win as a big-league manager.
The hurt lingered for a while, Manuel said.
But now, he said, he is at peace.
“Change is sometimes good,” he said. “When you’re involved in it, at first you get upset. But I realize change can be good for everybody. I’m not upset at all.
“What upset me most was the losing. But I feel good now.”
Manuel was offered a position with the club on the day he was fired. He spent five months mulling the offer while keeping an open ear in case his phone rang with a managerial offer from another club.
There were no offers to manage.
“My agent talked to some clubs,” said Manuel, who turned 70 earlier this month. “Some clubs put out some feelers about coaching in the big leagues. The managing jobs that were open were filled with young guys. That’s the trend the last few years and I understand it.”
Manuel has come to terms with the idea that he may never manage again.
“Managing is not even on my mind now,” he said. “I understand where I am as far as my age. I’m not looking to get a manager job. People know where I am, but I’m not looking.”
Manuel began his pro baseball career in 1963, as a teenager out of the Shenandoah Valley. He had no doubt that he wanted to stay in the game.
“I’m a Phillie and I feel good about it,” he said. “If I’m going to work for anyone as a front-office guy, why shouldn’t it be the Phillies? I had a lot of good times here. I like the people in the organization.”
To say Manuel had a lot of good times in red pinstripes is an understatement.
In more than 8½ seasons, he won the most games (780) of any Phillies manager. He presided over five straight NL East championship teams, led two teams to the World Series and won it all in 2008. He and Dallas Green are the only two Phillies managers to win a World Series. Now, they are both senior advisers to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
“I’ll work as hard as I ever have,” Manuel said. “I look forward to working with the guys in the front office and working with some of our young hitters.
“I’m going to see a lot of baseball, see players, work with them. It will be fun.”
Manuel said he has not spoken with his successor, Ryne Sandberg, since he was let go.
But he’s pulling for Sandberg.
Heck, they are still teammates -- even if they don’t share a dugout anymore.
“I want them to win,” Manuel said. “I want everyone to put together a big season. I think Ryno is going to do a hell of a job.”