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10/12/08 11:35 PM ET

Manuel: Mom would want me to manage

Phillies skipper speaks for first time about mother's passing

LOS ANGELES -- The baseball arena, whether around the batting cage or in the dugout, is where Charlie Manuel needed to be.

It's his sanctuary, and where his mother June would've told him to be. So this is where he'll continue to be.

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Manuel broke his silence Sunday, two days after his mother passed away at 87. Most of the questions revolved around his loss coming at a high-profile time and the balancing of work with personal tragedy.

"We've got some work to do, and I know my mother would definitely want me in the dugout, because she used to manage a lot for me anyway," Manuel said. "I feel very comfortable. My mom and I were very close. I know that she would definitely want me to finish the season, if possible."

Manuel will manage the Phillies through Game 5 on Wednesday, then return to Buena Vista, the small Virginia town where he grew up and where June Manuel lived in the same house for the past 43 years. He'll attend a viewing and funeral and return to Philadelphia for a possible Game 6 on Friday.

Manuel said he would speak to his mother "four or five times a week" and she always told him that she was praying for the team her son managed that now sits two games away from the World Series.

"Most of the things she'd tell me [was] how to play baseball or something like that," Manuel said. "She would always tell me things like, 'You tell those guys that I want them to bear down and really get after it.' And I used to say, 'Yeah, mom, I'll be sure to tell them, OK.'

"Sometimes I might get a little upset and I'd say, 'One of these days, I'm going to bring you up here and let you tell them.'"

Figuring out lineups and working with his players has allowed Manuel not to dwell on the loss. He thinks about arrangements and feelings when he's alone -- after games -- but for those nine innings, it's baseball.

After all, this is the same guy who hit a home run for his high school baseball team in 1963 on the day of his father Charles Sr.'s funeral.

"I never thought about not managing, because we've come this far, and I want to be there," Manuel said. "This is something you've got to deal with. It's all part of life, and you have to be strong and find a way to get through."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.