Updated: 7:40 p.m.
For the second straight year, the Phillies increased their commitment to manager Pete Mackanin, signing him to a new contract Thursday.
Mackanin's contract now runs through 2018 with a club option for 2019. His previous extension, signed last March, took him through the end of 2017 with a 2018 club option.
"I am very pleased with the contributions Pete has made and the job that he has done as the manager of this club," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday at a press conference. "I think he's grown a lot in the role. And really, whether it's his interactions with the players, his interactions with the media, his interactions with fans, whether we're on a winning streak or a losing streak, I think he has clearly solidified that he is the leader of this club."
Mackanin is in his second full season as the Phillies' manager after taking over for Ryne Sandberg on June 26, 2015. His record with the Phils is 121-161 (.429).
The Phillies like the way Mackanin communicates with his players.
"I want them to be accountable and I make sure they're accountable. Back in the old days, it was, 'I'm the manager, that's why you're not playing, get out of my office.' Doesn't work anymore," Mackanin said. "I want the players to respect me and like playing for me. But at the same time, when I want them to be accountable and want them to do something they should or shouldn't be doing, I let them know about it. It's kind of a funny relationship, but it's the one I think I've nurtured and that's my style."
Klentak credited Mackanin with being instrumental in the growth of the team's young talent such as Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr. Hernandez leads all major-league second basemen in runs scored (29) and is third in both average (.324) and on-base percentage (.378). Among shortstops, Galvis is tied for the league lead in RBIs with 21, while Altherr is riding an eight-game hitting streak and batting .351 with seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .435 on-base percentage in 25 games. All three have also played strong defense.
"If you look at a few examples, Cesar Hernandez had sort of a rocky road as he first entered the big leagues," Klentak said. "Through the patience and the work put into it by Pete and Pete's staff, we're now seeing Cesar Hernandez establish himself as one of the better all-around second baseman in baseball.
"These guys have shown patience in continuing to work with Freddy Galvis and now he's one of the main leaders on our club. Pete has continued to try to find ways to get Aaron Altherr in the lineup and now we're starting to see Aaron Altherr take off and become one of the better players in all of baseball.
"That's a big part of it — Pete's ability and our staff's ability to continue to work with those players, to help them grow, help them improve, to understand that there's going to be growing pains with young players."
Mackanin is also savvy with the media, which doesn't hurt.
"We can see progress in what's happening right now," Klentak said. "I can see it, Pete can see it, we all see it — it's happening before our very eyes. Obviously it has not reflected in our win-loss record, but we can see the progress happening. That's why we're making this decision."
The timing of the extension is interesting as it comes a day after reliever Joaquin Benoit criticized the way the Phillies' staff has used its struggling bullpen (see story).
Klentak discussed the topic on Thursday, while Mackanin said he addressed it with Benoit.
"I told him, I said, 'Look it, when a team's going through a losing streak I don't expect everybody to be happy,'" Mackanin said (see story). "In fact, I expect everybody to be frustrated — from the players to the coaches to myself, nobody's happy. So I don't have an issue with that. I spoke to him and it's done with, it's all over."
CSNPhilly.com's Jordan Hall contributed to this story.