He did offer a glimpse into his thinking.
Manuel said, "Right now, I'm trying to put the best lineup on the field."
That means Manuel does not care how bad the defense gets. Offense matters more. If the Phillies cannot manage more than two runs per game, then even the best defense likely will not matter - especially at Citizens Bank Park, which surrendered another pair of Little League home runs Monday.
As such, every Phillie is on notice, including daily starters Placido Polanco and rookie Freddy Galvis, who have three hits between them in 26 at-bats.
"I'm not grading Freddy Galvis on  at-bats . . . I'm going to send him a message he can't hit? I don't think so."
He was referring to his decision to keep Galvis in the game in the seventh inning Monday instead of using his bench, which was full of powerful options. Galvis was 0-for-12 at that point. Manuel acknowledged he considered pinch-hitting for Galvis, but declined, because his move to lefty-hitting Laynce Nix would have prompted the Marlins to bring in a lefthanded pitcher, which meant Manuel then would have called on Ty Wiggington.
Do not be fooled. Charlie Manuel is not in the business of protecting Freddy Galvis' psyche.
Manuel is in the business of protecting his own job. Managing a team with a $170 million payroll that was bounced from the playoffs in the first round in 2011, he must win as many games as quickly as possible.
Manuel didn't pinch-hit because he didn't figure his options on the bench had any better chance than Galvis had, and the Marlins were leading, 5-0, anyway.
Galvis happened to double.
Not a sizzling, line-drive double to the left-center gap; a backspin floater. Which might be the extent of Galvis' power.
Manuel wasn't grading Galvis on his 12 prior at-bats. He's grading him on those at-bats, plus his 82 at-bats in spring training, when Galvis managed a .426 slugging percentage. That's 79 points below what Manuel has seen from Utley in his career.
That's not a fair comparison. But that's how this team was built: With expectations of consistently high offensive output from second base, shortstop and centerfield, positions traditionally manned by players whose defense is their strength.
The Phillies simply lack strength.
Manuel said, "We don't hit the ball hard enough to score runs."
Yes, that means, without Howard and Utley, the Phillies lack home run potential.
More important, perhaps, it means the Phillies lack the power to pull doubles down the lines, to lash doubles into the power alleys - doubles that bring in RBI, doubles that place runners in scoring position.
When the Phillies led the National League with 820 runs in 2009, they led the league with 224 homers, and also led the league with 312 doubles.
Howard and Utley combined for 76 of the homers and 65 doubles. The rest of the team hit more doubles; Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, both in the top 10, combined for 82 doubles.
It is not alarming that the Phillies have one home run. Their home run hitters are absent.
It is devastating that they have only three doubles. That means virtually no one is squaring the ball up.
Which usually means the team is pressing.
Manuel said, "I don't know if they're pressing or not."
He didn't say they aren't pressing. That's important.
So is this:
Manuel said, "We have veteran players . . . Why should they be tentative?"
Here's why: So many of them have a chance to use the next few weeks to prove something, they are afraid to fail.
John Mayberry Jr., barely a veteran after one solid season, can better prove he belongs after a horrid spring. Wiggington and Nix can prove they are more than bench players. Juan Pierre can prove he deserves better than a minor league deal after hitting .279 last season. Polanco can prove that he is healthy, that he is back.
They all can prove that the Phillies are more than the Chase and Ryan show.
But they are not.
They are pressing. They are tentative.
And, so, Manuel is fatalistic.
Even as he tries to settle on a lineup . . . or, at least, a system that produces one lineup against lefties, another against righties. Manuel likes that sort of predictability, mainly because his players thrive on habit.
The problem with the roster, Manuel said, is that "when I look at it, I still come up with the same names."
That's about as damning as Manuel will get. Except for this:
"I don't care what I get. Give 'em to me. I'll work with them."
No need to read between those lines.
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