But he also knows fans can't be patient forever.
"We've got to show them something," he said. "They're going to come to the ballpark and be interested in our team, but at the same time, they want to see for themselves how good we are. It's up to us to play the game right, play hard and enjoy it. I think with the talent we've got, I think we'll make them happy.
"We've got to win. We've got to get off to a good start, so they hold an interest in our club. That's up to us to make them feel that way."
A fast start would be huge for the Phillies.
A slow start could be a killer in a much-improved National League East.
"I've never seen a team win a World Series in April," shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Well, except the Yankees. They've won a World Series after 45 games, but that's probably about it."
But while it is true that nobody has won a championship in April, 57 of 72 (79.2 percent) playoff teams since 1995 had winning records in April.
Eleven (15.3 percent) had losing records.
Four teams (5.5 percent) had .500 records.
Twenty-two of those 57 teams with winning records got off to torrid starts, with winning percentages of .650 or better.
The Phillies finished 10-11 last April.
They didn't reach the .500 mark until May 8.
"Huge," leftfielder Pat Burrell said of the importance of a good start. "We know how tough it was last year. We've only played one game, but it's nice to win. For us to start out hot and on top is much better than fighting your way to get up there."
"That makes it tough, especially when you start on a bad roll," lefthander Rheal Cormier said. "But that's part of baseball. If you can be on the other side where you can start with four or five wins in a row, that's huge.
"Because as a team, you know you're going to go through streaks where things aren't going to go well. But at the same time, if you have games to play with, it's not as devastating. If you start the season on the wrong foot, it makes it that much tougher."
Manuel said he doesn't have a number in his mind of how many games his team needs to win to take the East, but it certainly seems it will take at least 90. Atlanta, which has won every division title since 1991, has won at least 96 games in each of the last three seasons. In their stretch of 13 consecutive division championships, the Braves have won 100 or more games six times.
"I definitely want us to play over .500 each month," Manuel said. "If you sit there and do the math, and you say if they play three over, four over or five over - see what we win.
"If we play the game right, and we enjoy playing and we play because we have a high passion, it'll be there if we have the talent. And if I had to grade out our talent today, I'd say we have the talent to win."
The Phillies would need to play about four games over .500 every month to finish with at least 90 victories.
Ninety wins might not be enough to win the division.
But it should put them in position to make things interesting.
General manager Ed Wade was told that Manuel wants fans to be patient early on. He was asked if that is realistic.
"I think we'd be better off if we were 45-0," he said with a laugh. "I think we all share the same goal to get off to a good start, not just because of fan reaction, but because of the division we play in and the level of competition that we face.
"Sometimes that first quarter of the season, you find out different things about different people on your club and find out more about your team. But you don't treat the first 45 games as a shakedown period. Otherwise you're cruising up a creek."
Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki at 215-854-4874 or email@example.com.