10/21/09 5:25 PM ET
Pregame interview with Charlie Manuel
By / MLB.com
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think our offense is clicking the best when our top two hitters gets on base, and I think it sets the stage for the middle of our lineup and even the guys that hit in the sixth, seventh hole. If you look, we've got power, and I think Ruiz is capable of hitting anywhere from he can hit 12 to 20 home runs sometimes, I think.
But what happens is the guys at the top, when they get on, it sets the table because we do run, and we always have runners in scoring position. Jimmy Rollins, he'll get a lot of RBIs if the bottom of the lineup is getting on. We can score runs that way, too, because he does knock in quite a few runs for a lead off hitter.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Ryan Howard. We know what he can do, the numbers, but just his overall presence in the clubhouse, in the dugout, and just how he really has been the catalyst of this team.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think who he is goes -- I don't think people really -- I think that they don't really get to know him because of how he hits. This guy plays every day. I've seen him get hit with a baseball or something, and he got hit twice in the same place within two days, and he got hit hard, right up on his forearm, and I can't remember seeing him rub it. I walked by him the second day, and I said, "Hey, Ryan, how do you feel?" And he says, "Hey, Charlie, I'm playing."
He's quiet, he doesn't say a whole lot, but he likes to have a good time. He's fun, but he's very professional, and he's a very mentally tough guy. He'll get down every now and then if he's not hitting good, but you can walk over and pump him up, tell him he's going to hit one, or this guy has got your name on him or something like that and he'll smile and usually come and snap right out of it. But yeah, he's a big part of our team, and he's a leader. Most of all, the thing I love about him, he's an everyday player.
Q. Is there such a thing as managing a low maintenance or high maintenance team? And what is it about this team that you like managing?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the way that -- I say it all the time, their attitude and how they foresee the game. We've got a bunch of guys who love to play baseball, and I think that that goes along with -- and that's why they think in a winning way. I think we've got guys that like to pitch and we've got guys that like to play, and the guys that like to play, they stand out on the field. I don't have to tell you who they are because you'll see them. I think that's exactly what our team is. I think when we put our team together three years ago, when we made some changes and everything, I think we put guys on the field, and some of them were new, but also by making some changes, we opened up the door for someone like Jimmy Rollins to kind of step forward and be who he is today.
I think you put all those things together, and I give them all the credit in the world.
Q. Is it enjoyable to manage this team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, it's enjoyable. But at the same time, also, characters make up the team, and I think they've got to be relaxed. First of all, I talk about that. I talk about the best way to play -- this is a fun game, and it's supposed to be fun. But winning is part of having fun. I mean, that is the fun.
But also, you've got to be totally relaxed, you've got to stay focused, and it gets back to the excellence over success. If you strive to be the best, then success will be there. And baseball is a long season, and if you do your best, and we play for that one day -- and we're going to play today to win the game tonight. That's what we came to the ballpark for.
We've got players that buy into that. We've got guys that like to have fun. We've got guys who every now and then, they can do things that might tick you off a little bit, but for some reason between the players and my coaching staff and myself, they all buy into which way we want to go, and I give them all the credit in the world, the players.
Q. Before the workout yesterday you touched on Brad Lidge a little bit, and I was wondering if you can see a difference between Lidge right now and then let's say in mid September when he was struggling? And if so, how much did putting him in some maybe confidence building situations late in the year help him get to where he is right now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think right now he's definitely more at ease, and he's more relaxed. He's having fun again.
I think when I bring him in the game now and I talk to him, you can tell that he's ready to go. I think that he's very capable of doing the job; I always have. He has a lot of talent. He has two out pitches -- he has a fastball and a slider. And at times he can change speeds on his slider, but when his slider is real good, he has a real hard bite to it, and his success speaks for itself as far as when he's good.
He's just like any other guy. Most closers this year, if you look, they've hit a spell where they have their ups and downs, too. They get hit at times. That's the name of the game.
He was perfect last year. I don't know how you can beat that. But at the same time, he's also human, and if you keep going out there, sooner or later I've got an old saying, that Louisville will find you. That's kind of how it goes.
Q. Did it help to kind of put him in lower leverage situations there the last couple weeks?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, I think basically what we're trying to do, we wanted to keep him pitching, but at the same time I wanted him to have some success and kind of gave him a break, let him get off and think about it.
Sometimes to me, to me when a pitcher, when he does something good, if he has time to sit and think about it for a couple days, it might help him. Whatever. I have a lot of ways of thinking, but he's definitely much better than he was I'd say a month ago or three weeks ago.
Q. Generally speaking, when Hamels is starting, how quickly do you know if he's going to be able to have a Cole Hamels type of night, or whether it's going to be a night where he might struggle a little bit? Can you tell that just from the report you get from his warming up in the bullpen, or do you watch an inning or so? And what are the tip offs to you of when he's really got it and when he really doesn't?
CHARLIE MANUEL: It seems like when he has trouble when the game starts, he'll be feeling for his command, the fastball will be up and out of the strike zone. If he's throwing down and throwing good low fastballs and his change up is down and he's getting ahead in the count, then he's going to be tough.
When I look at him, he's a lot like any other pitcher. If he throws a first pitch strike, if he throws a lot of first pitch strikes, he's got a chance of being good.
Q. I know you were over here a little bit yesterday, but what else did you do on your off day?
CHARLIE MANUEL: As a matter of fact, I stayed here for quite a while. After practice was over, I went inside, and by the time I sat around BSing it was time for me to go home, and that was about 5:00 or 6:00. Then I went home and watched the game.
Q. What did you think of the Yankees last night?
CHARLIE MANUEL: The Yankees are hot. A-Rod is hitting good. Actually they're playing very good.
Q. For a guy who hasn't played a whole lot the last couple of seasons, Bruntlett has found himself in a lot of big moments in the post season. Do you take satisfaction in a guy like that playing as big a role as he has? And for him to come in as a pinch runner, is there anything about him that makes him a good choice in those situations?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I do believe in luck at times. I don't know what that means, but I keep my eye on guys like that. Bruntlett plays a big part on our team, and he can play all positions, and that makes him very valuable. He can be a base runner, he can go up and I use him a lot of times to bunt, and he can do quite a few things.
Unfortunately this year he didn't get to play a whole lot, and sometimes that's a part of a bench player. I think, because I sat on the bench so much in the Major Leagues, I think I understand the bench player very well because I was a very good one. I didn't like it, but I kind of learned to accept it in some ways. That is one of the hardest jobs in baseball, and it's hard to stay sharp, and people sometimes will think, well, because he sits there, he doesn't hit. Well, sometimes because he hits there, it also hurts his timing on the field and everything. There is such a thing as a timing rhythm in the field. Sometimes when you don't get to play, both of those -- basically your game gets hurt.
I think Bruntlett is a team player. I think he doesn't say very much, and he just goes about his business, and you'll always see him out there practicing and working as hard as anybody out there. He does a tremendous job for us, and he's always ready, and he's always willing to do what you tell him to do. That makes him a very valuable person.
Q. You've managed against Pedro Martinez for years. Now that you have him on your team, what differences have you seen in him? And how have you enjoyed getting to know him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I seen him when he was in the Minor Leagues. I seen him when he was very young, and I seen him when he used to pitch against us when I was in Cleveland and he used to pitch real good games when he was at the top of his game.
Pedro is a little bit different than who I thought he was going to be. I always thought he was a little cocky, a little arrogant in some ways. Obviously he's not arrogant at all, but he is totally -- he's very professional, and he studies the game, and he loves baseball, and he likes to be out there in the moment, and he thinks he can get anybody out. He doesn't back away, doesn't scare from nothing. That's kind of how I see him; he's very valuable on your team.
Q. I know that you'll beat whoever stands in your way to win, whether it's your grandmother or whoever. What has it been like, I know you told that story about Jim Thome the other day, what's it been like to go against him and realize this could be his last chance at getting to and maybe winning a World Series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Jim Thome, when you see Jimmy or Manny or some of those guys that I had, especially in my hitting instructor days, I think of all the work we put in, and Jim Thome in some ways he's a lot like my son because that's how much time I spent with him. I pull for him, but he ain't going to beat us. I don't want him to beat us.
I don't know, it might be like a father son -- I'll put it to you like this: My son, I used to play basketball with him, and he played on the school team. And I used to take him out back, and we had a wooden fence, just kind of had like space in between it and had like three logs on it, kind of a parallel fence, and we had a rosebush on there. When he's go driving in for a lay up, I'd drive him right into that rosebush.
And he's a little guy. One day we were playing and he starts crying, and he threw the ball at me. I looked at him, I said, "What are you crying for, man? I'm just trying to teach you how to play." He said, "The only thing you're teaching me is how to lose." After that, that kind of taught me something, and I looked at him, and I thought to myself, if I'm going to teach him to be a good player, I want him to play hard, I want him to try to beat me.
Jimmy Thome gets a hit and beats us, more power to him. But at the same time, believe me, nobody is going to be trying to get him out more than I am.
Q. Manny Ramirez homered in Game 1, but you've pretty much held him in check, just 4-for-16 in the series. That being said, is he the type of guy you have to be careful of knowing he has the capability of really taking the game over?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I was watching MLB the other day or one of the TV stations, and I heard somebody say that it's just a matter of time until he comes out of it. I hope he waits until next spring.
But at the same time, we've got to get Manny out, but they also -- if you look, they've usually got a guy standing behind him that's hitting higher and had big seasons, and you've got to pick your spots, especially if you plan on walking him or something. We don't want him to beat us, but at the same time there comes a time in the game when we've got to get him out.
So far we've been fortunate, we've kind of kept him in check. He's got his hits, and actually good hitters will get their hits. But at the same time, we definitely know he's standing there, and we know the situations. He's the one guy that we don't want to beat us.
Q. I know you want to win tonight, but I'm sure you've also thought about plans for the future. With the way Cliff is pitching, would you want to put him back out there for Game 6, or could you see yourself going with Pedro?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'll tell you what, guys, I'll announce that after the game tonight, all right? You knew that was coming, didn't you? (Laughter).
Q. You've got a big cushion, of course, with three games, but is it important tonight to be aggressive early, early in tonight's game, rather than let it happen a little bit later?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah. We've got to win a game, but what did we come to the ballpark for today? We came to win today's game. That's why we come every day, and that's what we talk about, and that's what I've been talking about for three years now. We came to the ballpark today, and we came to win. That's when the game starts, we're going to do everything we can to win.
Q. You've been asked a lot about your faith in Brad Lidge. Ryan Madson has had his ups and downs, as well. Where does your confidence in Ryan come from?
CHARLIE MANUEL: My confidence is very good. I look at Ryan Madson, he's a guy that can on nights when he's really throwing the ball, I just like to see him go out there and pitch. I mean, really, as long as he's doing good, that's fine. If he gets hit or something, that's baseball. But when he throws the ball like he can, I have all the confidence in the world in him.
Ryan Madson, to me, he hasn't hit his potential yet. He has some big upside to him, and he's got a chance to be very special.
Q. What would you say has been your toughest managerial year here with the Phillies?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Probably my first. My first. I think that was because I think it takes people a long time to get to know me, and I think that's kind of -- the only way you do it, I guess, the only way people get to know you or something is to have good players and win games. I think that's kind of what's happened here.
I always give all of my credit to the players. They are the ones that have made us very successful, and I think it took a while definitely for the people, and I think it took a while for you guys to maybe at least get to know me some. And I think that was probably my toughest year. That was my toughest year as far as organization and my staff and things.
Q. What about from a logistics standpoint, actually managing?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think two years ago -- it was two years ago, we used to have some trouble in the bullpen, and actually we ended up winning our division. That's when Colorado beat us three straight in the playoffs. And when I got home, I used to think about our bullpen, and people would always tell me how weak it was and everything or how we had trouble. But we had enough talent and enough outings, good outings, to win our division. So maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it was.
But then this year I think the fact that we came out of Spring Training with our bullpen and we had trouble with it right off the bat, I think moves as far as pitching goes and everything like that, I think this might have been our toughest season as far as being able to repeat and win, and also because we won last year. I think that made a difference because just the fact that once the season started we still had a lot of things to do. We had a lot of ceremonies, we had a whole lot of things going on, and I think our players definitely had more things to do. They got more recognition and publicity. And I think when Harry passed away, I think that really hurt our club because he was very close to us.
I think everyone in here knows how close he was to our ballclub and our organization, and I think some of the things that we had to overcome, especially up until the All-Star break, I think that we made it through, and we ended up pretty good the second half, and that's why we're standing here today.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.