Manuel on offense: 'I don't know what I can do'

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Manuel on offense: 'I don't know what I can do'

Charlie Manuel is so mad about his offense, he's ready to knock somebody out.

The Phillies had all eight of their projected starters in the lineup for just the sixth time this season, and even though they spotted Cole Hamels an early 3-0 lead Friday, they failed to score again after the second inning and left 10 men on base in a 4-3 home loss to the Mets (see game recap).

From the third inning on, the Phillies put eight men on base but had nothing to show for it. Chase Utley, in his return from the disabled list (see story), twice came up with two outs and men in scoring position but couldn't bring anyone home.

"I thought Utley hit tonight with some guys on base, but at the same time, the first ball he hit to first base and the line drive he hit to center field was hit hard," Manuel said. "He'll be fine."

But, reporter Howard Eskin asked, is the rest of the lineup going to be fine?

"Stop thinking about that -- 'Is the rest of the lineup gonna be fine?'" Manuel retorted. "Do I know if the rest of the lineup is gonna be fine? If I knew that, don't you think I'd do something about it?

"Does anybody else know that Howard? Do you know it? I don't think so. I know you don't as a matter of fact. Who does know it?"

"But the point is," Eskin interjected, "is there anything left to do if the rest of the lineup..."

And that seemed to put Manuel over the edge.

"I don't know what I can do," Manuel said, loudly and clearly, without a bit of hesitation. "If we don't hit and score runs, I don't know what we can do. I don't know what nobody else can do about it and I know you can't do a damn thing about it.

"So what else you wanna know? Anything else?"

And it almost ended there, but Eskin had one last question, and Manuel, walking away, had one final response.

"When you gonna score 10 runs?"

"When I knock you out," Manuel said. "That's when."

Clearly, the manager lost his cool on a night when his team failed to eclipse the three-run mark for the 40th time in 74 games this season. The Phillies are 9-31 in those games; they're 26-8 when they score four runs or more.

The Phillies are averaging just 3.68 runs per game this year -- down from an average of 4.22 per game last season. That number drops to 2.93 when Cole Hamels, who suffered his 11th loss Friday, takes the mound.

Hamels maintains he doesn't think about it.

"I never have," Hamels said. "I've been really good at moving on from year to year about not paying attention or really focusing on the past, even game to game.

"Today was a game that I feel like we could've seized and it was a good opportunity, and I wasn't able to take care of what I needed to take care of."

One of the main problems with the Phillies' offense is that it just hasn't been clicking on all cylinders at the same time. When one guy is hot, the rest of the lineup is in a funk. Domonic Brown, the National League's Player of the Month for May, is batting .175 in his last 11 games, and that's including his 2-for-3 performance Friday. Ben Revere, meanwhile, has an 11-game hitting streak going and his average is .417 over that span.

The bats produced 10 hits and two walks on Friday but put up just three runs to show for it. On the year, the Phillies entered the game eighth in the league in average but 12th in runs per game.

Utley's return can only help, as Phillies second basemen hit below .200 in his absence. And although Utley went 0 for 5 on Friday night, he did get good wood on two balls, as his manager pointed out.

"Obviously, I had an opportunity to drive in some runs -- I wasn't able to do that," Utley said. "But the overall picture, I felt good. I feel like I can contribute, and we'll move on tomorrow."

So Utley, like his manager, insists he'll be fine. But how about the rest of the offense?

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.

But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.

Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.

He's done that.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.

He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.

"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.

"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."

Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.

"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him. 

"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."

Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.

"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."

The game
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.

The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.

Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.

The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Up next
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.

Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel reflect on special bond with Dallas Green

Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel reflect on special bond with Dallas Green

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- An impromptu homage to Dallas Green broke out on the field at the Phillies' spring training home Thursday morning.

Larry Bowa, who played for Green on the 1980 World Series championship team, was there.

So was Charlie Manuel, the only other manager other than Green to lead a Phillies team to a World Series title.

They told tales of Green's tough exterior and warm heart.

Bowa even shed a tear.

A couple of hours later, there were a few more tears in the stands as the team honored Green with a moment of silence the day after he died at 82.

Green's old jersey, No. 46, hung in the dugout for the Phillies-Twins game.

"It was tough last night," Bowa said. "I just couldn't believe it. This guy meant the world to us. We don't win a World Series without Dallas. It doesn't matter if we've got 10 Pete Roses, we don't win a World Series without Dallas. 

"He taught me a lot about being mentally tough and giving everything you have, every pitch, nine innings. Never quit. He was a guy that told our team, 'Look in the mirror. You're not as good as you think you are.' He said, 'Anybody can win divisions, go win a World Series. Put a ring on somebody's finger.'"

The Phillies had great talent in the late 1970s but always came one step short of the World Series. Green came in late in the 1979 season and was a stun gun to a complacent team. A year later, they were World Series champions.

"He said, 'I don't care what you did yesterday. What can you do today to help the Phillies win?' He got everybody's attention," Bowa said. "Yeah, we had a lot of give and take, screaming. I think everybody respected him. That's the bottom line. Eventually, when you get done playing, you realize how important he was to the Phillies in 1980."

Bowa was a critic of Green's in the lead up to the World Series. He recalled the give and take with the manager, which wasn't always sugar and spice and everything nice.

After one particularly poor game, Green left his office door open as he spoke with reporters. During the interview session, Green loudly questioned the team's desire and said the group was not as good as it thought it was. The players in the clubhouse heard it all because Green wanted them to -- and, of course, because his voice naturally boomed.

After Green's session with the media that night, a reporter approached Bowa and asked if he'd heard Green's loud commentary.

Of course, Bowa had heard it.

And he was fired up.

"Go ask Dallas how many games he won in the big leagues," Bowa told the writer, poking at Green's modest 20-22 record as a big-league pitcher.

When the writer informed Green of Bowa's barb, Green responded with a loud, "Touche, Bo. Touche."

"He wanted you to hear things," Bowa said.

That was one of his ways of challenging people. And he really liked to challenge players. It was his way of inspiring and separating the weak from the strong.

Manuel compared that to one of his former managers, Billy Martin.

"He was like a Billy Martin kind of guy," Manuel said. "He'll tell you what he expects out of you, but at the same time, he'll tell you that you can't do something. That's a big challenge to you. When you show him that you can do it, that's when he's on your side and he thinks the world of you. That's the time you become his guy."

Manuel became Green's guy after the two had a public spat in 2006. In a radio interview, Green, then a member of the team's front office, had criticized the way Manuel's Phillies were playing. In particular, he said the team lacked fundamentals. Manuel was furious that a member of the front office would criticize him publicly. A month or so later, as the Phillies rallied themselves into wild-card contention, Manuel and Green came face to face on the field before a game at Citizens Bank Park.

Manuel unloaded on Green.

And Green took his medicine.

From that confrontation, respect and understanding grew. Manuel and Green became great friends and frequent dinner partners. A few years later, Green admitted to a reporter that he was wrong for scuffing Manuel and he thanked Manuel for showing him that there are other ways to run a team than just the way he did it.

"I showed him," Manuel said. "When I look back, maybe he was testing me. But I understood him and I think at the end he felt he understood me."

On the night the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Manuel and Green, members of an elite, two-man club, sat in Manuel's office and reflected.

"He was very happy," Manuel said. "Him and I had a few drinks of VO. I think I outdrank him, really. But, of course, when he won back in 1980 he would have outdrank me.

"Everything about it was good. He was just as happy as I was and I can't tell you how happy I was.

"He was always around and he definitely pulled for the Phillies day in and day out.

"Baseball's going to miss Dallas Green.

"I'm going to miss him."