Charlie Manuel, sultan of svelte

Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Jose Contreras delivers a pitch. (AP Photo / Linda Kaye, file)

FROM Matt Gelb

Charlie Manuel doesn’t know his new suit size yet. The one he wore to today’s news conference at Citizens Bank Park was the only clean suit he had. He tried on some old jackets and they dwarfed him.
The Phillies’ manager now weighs 58 pounds less than he did during the 2009 season.
After Manuel, who is preparing for his sixth season as Phillies manager, saw an old photo of himself the other day, he realized how drastic his lifestyle had changed.
“My stomach was over my belt,” said Manuel, who stands 6-4. “I went, ’That’s a pretty big gut.’ I was carrying around a lot of weight.”
Manuel, 66, said he now weighs 228 pounds, down from 286, after beginning a regular diet and exercise routine during the off-season.
The manager avoided contact with the media until recently, when he made his first trip back to Philadelphia from his off-season home in Winter Haven, Fla. After losing to the Yankees in the World Series, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he wanted Manuel to take some time to get away from baseball.
“I went home,” Manuel said. “I played golf. I went crappie fishing. I liked it. It felt good. I was by myself. But after about a week, I wanted to come back to the ballpark.”
Instead, Manuel put his energy into losing the weight. He began a diet through Nutrisystem, a Horsham-based weight-loss program endorsed by celebrities such as Dan Marino, Billie Jean King, and Marie Osmond.
He also maintained an exercise program at Gold’s Gym in Winter Haven, where he said he spent between an hour-and-a-half and two hours each day. Manuel said he would do work on the treadmill and bike before lifting weights.
“I feel good,” Manuel said. “I feel a lot better. I feel a lot better than I did when I weighed 286.”
Manuel isn’t the only coach in town to spend an off-season dropping pounds. Eagles head coach Andy Reid lost 75 pounds before training camp began last season. But this was after Reid had lost weight in 2005, before gaining it all back.
Not putting the pounds back on will be the challenge for Manuel during what can be a stressful 162-game season.
Manuel has had health problems before. In 1998, when he was the hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians, he suffered a heart attack — his second in seven years — and underwent a quadruple bypass. And in 2000, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Now, Manuel is feeling better than ever.
“I definitely have a lot more energy,” he said. “My knees feel a heckuva lot better. I can move quicker. I can still hit a golf ball pretty good, too.”

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or