Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tired of talking about his contract

Posted: February 18, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Charlie Manuel stood alone Saturday near first base on a back field at the Carpenter Complex. For about 10 minutes, he watched Chase Utley, Darin Ruf, and Michael Young slice balls into a stiff wind. When he had seen enough, Manuel ambled behind the batting cage and to the next field when some fans noticed that familiar gait.

"Charlie!"

"Hey, Charlie!"

"Coach!"

Manuel's arms swung at his hips and he flicked his left wrist to acknowledge the greetings. His ninth spring training as Phillies manager officially commenced with Saturday's first full-squad workout and his annual address to the team.

Later, in a conference room adjacent to the clubhouse at Bright House Field, Manuel vented over what he perceived as the excessive focus of reporters on his contract status. He is the winningest manager in Phillies history and will become the franchise's longest-tenured boss in May.

And he is ready to stop talking about his uncertain future.

"I shouldn't have to explain it to anybody - the team, or President Obama, or anybody," Manuel said. "Seriously. That's kind of how I look at it. I'm not worried about my contract. I've been in baseball 51 years and right now I definitely plan on staying in baseball and I plan on managing."

Manuel said it was the last time he would address his contract. It is a topic sure to be broached soon again, whether these Phillies succeed or fail. His potential successor, Ryne Sandberg, is on the staff.

Manuel, 69, was diplomatic about the situation last October. He is not without pride, and his testiness has risen with whispers of eventual retirement.

"I'm very satisfied with the way it is," Manuel said. "This is my ninth year and I know the good things that we've had, and I should never have to sit and tell somebody what we've done. I always give my players the credit for it.

"And if we lose 10 games or we win 10 games, well, I don't want nobody to ask me about it because it's not going to bother me. I've seen Joe Torre, his contract has run out before. Dusty Baker last year. [Tony] La Russa. I've seen all these guys and there's still a couple this year. It's Joe Girardi this year, I think. That's fine. It's the way it goes. And I'm not worried about it at all.

"So therefore, I want to stay focused. I want to stay totally focused on us winning. Us winning is more important to me than my contract. At the end of the year, somewhere along the line, David Montgomery and Ruben [Amaro Jr.] and I will more than likely have a talk, and that's kind of how I see it."

Is it something players will think about?

"Not really," Cliff Lee said. "I mean, he's been here a while. You have to respect what he's done. I didn't realize it was his last year [of his contract]. I really don't keep up with that. I hope he's here longer. But I'm not too worried about that.

"If we win, it will help him. And we want to win."

Kyle Kendrick, a veteran of six seasons under Manuel, said he paid extra attention to Manuel's message Saturday.

"You start thinking about this could be his last speech, his last spring training," Kendrick said. "Hopefully some guys maybe try to do a little extra for him and maybe have him go out on top."

Manuel said there was no reason to be sentimental during the speech. He harped on the mistakes that resulted in an 81-81 record last season, stressed the commitment he wanted from his players, but mostly stuck to talking points from the past.

"My record is just as good as anybody's in baseball," Manuel said.

In six week's time, he hopes to augment those words with further proof.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow

on Twitter @magelb.

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