Charlie Manuel met with reporters for about 20 minutes this afternoon before his first game as the team’s new hitting coach – precisely six years to the day that he managed his last game with the Phillies.
Perhaps to the surprise of nobody, Manuel has a pretty simple goal for his hitters over the final 43 games of the regular season.
“I would like to see just some of our players get a little bit more consistent in hitting and we’d see our run total go up.”
If you’re wondering if the 75-year-old Manuel views his interim position as a possible first step to a return as a major league manager, he made it clear that won’t be happening.
“I’m not interested in managing at all,” Manuel said.
Manuel, who said he took the job Monday night after the Phillies offered it to him earlier in the morning, cited the offense’s inconsistency and approach as two of the primary issues plaguing a group that began the day 23rd in OPS and 19th in runs per game.
He also believes far too many players across all levels are too focused on hitting home runs.
“I’ve seen a lot of amateur games, I saw the Futures Game this past summer, I see a lot of minor league baseball, I’ve seen major league baseball. I think most of the guys that go up to the plate try to hit home runs,” he said. “And if I could get all those hall of fame guys that I just saw last week, and you line them up in the dugout, and let the players walk down and talk to them and ask them did they try to hit home runs and see their reaction, they’d probably get a ‘no’ answer.”
If the Phillies are trying to go deep every at-bat, it hasn’t shown. They’re 23rd in homers this season.
Manuel also squashed any concerns over what could perhaps be awkward pairing between the franchise icon and current manager Gabe Kapler, but doesn’t seem concerned.
“I think I’m 75 years old, and I don’t think nothin’ bothers me anymore,” he said.
Kapler said he and Manuel had a chance to discuss the offense for about an hour earlier today. He doesn’t seem to think there will be a clash in approach between the two.
“A lot of his natural philosophies on hitting are the philosophies that we have in place with the Phillies right now, and there’s a lot of synergy there,” Kapler said. “One of the things we discussed was hitters looking for a pitch to drive, and when that pitch isn’t there, taking it until you get that pitch to drive.”
The Phillies will take their first hacks with Manuel in the dugout tonight against old friend Cole Hamels. He enters with a 3.09 ERA in 19 starts this season.