CLEARWATER, Fla. — It's an annual rite of spring: Before the first Phillies full-squad workout, Charlie Manuel addresses the entire clubhouse with his speech. Sometimes he has notes. Usually it comes from within. Always, it draws response.
The manager is starting his ninth spring and it could be his last. He enters 2013 with one year remaining on his current deal and the 69-year-old Manuel is content to decide his future at a later date.
There was no need, he said, to make this speech sentimental. Like Manuel, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz are all in contract years. There is no extra motivation, Manuel said.
And that launched what he hopes will be one final rant about his contract status.
"You know something? This is the last time I'll answer about my deal, OK?" Manuel said. "I'm very satisfied with the way it is. 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 and I always give my players the credit for it and things like that. And I should never ever even have to answer what we’ve done.
"If I needed to get established as a major league manager, I definitely did that with kind of the help of my players. 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's run out before. Dusty Baker last year. [Tony] LaRussa. 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] and I will more than likely have a talk and that's kind of how I see it."
Manuel, the winningest and soon-to-be longest-tenured manager in Phillies history, defended his accomplishments.
"What we did is sitting there in front of you," Manuel said. "My record is just as good as anybody's in baseball. I don't want to sound like I’m an 'I, me guy' because I'm not. But really, I mean just look at it. What's wrong with it? Do you know what I mean? We want to win a World Series every year. But that's kind of impossible. The Yankees have 27 of them, so there's over 100 years the Yankees didn't win.
"I shouldn't have to explain it to anybody," Manuel said. "The team, or President Obama, or anybody. 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."
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