Charlie Manuel on working with Phils in 2014: 'I'm fired up and ready to go'

Charlie Manuel on working with Phils in 2014: 'I'm fired up and ready to go'

If Charlie Manuel was upset at the timing of his firing in the middle of the 2013 season, it sure sounds like he's gotten over it.

Manuel was a guest on Philly Sports Talk on CSN on Tuesday evening and chatted with Michael Barkann, Jim Salisbury, and Rich Hoffmann.

"I was a little surprised," Manuel said about being inducted onto the Phillies Wall of Fame. "But at the same time I always thought that I'm part of Philly, I belong in Philly. I want to thank the fans, I want to thank the organization, and most of all I want to thank the players."

Some other highlights:

- Right off the bat Manuel tells the folks on TV that "they sound good"

- On this year with the Phillies: "I'm going to stay active. I think I'm gonna work a bit more than the Phillies think I am. I'm a repetition guy. I'm an arm and hammer guy. Basically what that is, that's strong back and a weak mind. I gotta work. I plan on doing some work with minor leaguers and also scouting, evaluating talent. I want to stay busy."

- Sitting at home this winter seemed to re-energize Charlie again. "I'm fired up and ready to go again if you want to know the truth."

- Manuel will not be in spring training with the team as he doesn't want to be a distraction

- On Ryan Howard: "He's certainly working hard this winter. He's got to put more into it as far as repetition and things. At times he doesn't like to hit a whole lot, but at the same time I think he's got to be prepared, more preparation staying focused on what he's doing. I think the talent is still there. I think he can come back and have a big year."

- Finally, Charlie offers to buy the crew dinner

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox wasn’t at practice with the rest of his Eagles teammates on Tuesday -- well, 86 of them -- and that’s okay. It’s May, and participation in offseason training activities is strictly voluntary. Furthermore, if Cox wants to take a vacation, he is entitled to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cox really should be at OTAs. The Eagles gave him a contract potentially worth over $100 million just last year, and with that comes an obligation. Cox arguably did not live up to that contract last season, too, so he could use the practice. And if he needed a vacation, why didn’t he take one during the three months he was off from work?

As far as I’m concerned, both takes are true. Cox is free to do as he wishes, and people with careers in sports should understand better than anybody the strain it places on families, so I can’t blame most of these guys for taking a little extra time. Then again, this drama with Cox seems like it was completely avoidable, and looks especially bad in light of his contract and disappointing season, so I can’t blame people for being angry, either.

Yet, Cox’s absence almost certainly will have no bearing on the outcome of any games this season. It’s not a sign of disrespect for Eagles coach Doug Pederson or that he’s losing the locker room. It’s not going to send a message to teammates that participation is not expected or important.

Cox missing OTAs on Tuesday was of no consequence to the Eagles at all. By training camp, it will be a forgotten footnote in the story of the 2017 season, only to be mentioned in future Mays whenever somebody else exercises the option to skip a voluntary practice.

Even then, there is clearly a double standard, because the reaction isn’t the same for everybody. When Brandon Graham missed last week while he was believed to be “holding out” for a new contract -- can’t hold out when it’s voluntary -- there were equal parts rage and support for the cause. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are out this week, too, and while some displeasure has been voiced, those absences were largely met with apathy.

Marcus Smith was missing on Tuesday as well, and it’s not immediately clear why. Pederson made no mention of the former first-round draft pick, and practice was almost over before reporters bothered to notice. In theory, this is a huge mistake, because Smith is fighting for a roster spot. We also don’t know where he is -- perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation -- so it’s unreasonable to jump to conclusions or become outraged.

This is the part where once again we remind everybody that it’s May and these practices are non-contact. And while Cox going away for a week will still be indefensible to some, it never hurts to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Maybe, for whatever reason, he was literally unable to make the trip at a time that would not interfere with Eagles business. Maybe he was simply getting grief at home because he's away so much.

That undoubtedly will be impossible for some people to accept. And, hey, maybe Cox just doesn’t care. Regardless, the practices are voluntary, Cox is expected back next week, and absolutely nobody is going to be talking about this eight months from now, eight weeks from now, or even eight days from now.