Manuel rallying his troops for Game 5
Phils skipper not calling team meeting, keeping it loose
PHILADELPHIA -- Their backs are up against the wall, facing elimination for the first time in two years. But that doesn't mean the Phillies don't have practice coming from behind, and manager Charlie Manuel will remind his team of its past successes in the hours leading up to Monday's Game 5. But he won't call a team meeting.
"Right now, probably more than likely, I'll walk around and talk to every guy on our team between now and when they're stretching," Manuel said. "I probably might talk to some of them during stretch time, too, and if I feel like I've got to call them in ... We've had a lot of meetings. I think last meeting I told them about everything I needed to tell them. Meetings to me sometimes are definitely -- I shouldn't say sometimes, most of the time -- meetings are a negative. Meetings are a downer, I mean, really.
"I think we know what winning is all about, and I think we know what's up for grabs tonight, and I think we've got to go get it, and I think that I can go talk to them. I can walk around individually and talk to guys and see what kind of mood they're in and just have a conversation with them and tell them what we're doing."
In winning the World Series last season and repeating as National League champions this year, the Phillies never once faced the pressure of an elimination game in the postseason. In fact, they had not lost more than one game in a single series.
But these Phillies are more than acclimated to playing do-or-die games late in the season; after all, their comebacks to catch the Mets in the NL East in 2007 and '08 were full of purported must-wins.
"There is no loosening this team up. We're always loose, we always have fun," center fielder Shane Victorino said. "When we go out there, we don't play with any kind of desperate measures. We go out there and we just have fun. I think that's why we're able to be so successful and so good."
Manuel wants to emphasize that characteristic looseness when he speaks to his team before Game 5.
"We're going to go out there and just be relaxed, and we're going to play just like always," he said. "Hitters are going to go up there and look for good pitches to hit, and we're going to hit the ball, we're going to try to execute and we're going to ... we're going to try to hit behind the runners, we're going to try to knock them in when we've got them in scoring position, and Cliff [Lee] is going to pitch his game. We're going to play and enjoy it.
"That's basically kind of how we play on an everyday basis. But at the same time, yeah, if somebody is tight, I want to loosen them up. So yeah, that's kind of what I'll talk about."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.