Good evening from the World Series, game 5 edition. Charlie Manuel said that he will not hold a team meeting today, but will speak to every player individually. The Phillies obviously face a steep climb against an excellent team, but their best pitcher is ready to go. And, as you know, this is not a team that rolls over.
Some interesting stuff from Manuel in his pregame meeting with the beat writers on Brad Lidge, Cole Hamels and that memorable Johnny Damon play.
The Phillies signed Lidge to a three-year, $37.5 million extension last season, a contract that Manuel said the pitcher deserved.
“There’s a reason why you’re a long man,” Manuel said. “There’s a reason why you’re a sixth inning guy, a seventh inning guy and a closer. There’s a reason for that…Lidge was perfect last year. Stuff-wise, when he’s on, he’s got two out pitches. He’s our top pitcher down there. He is out best pitcher, and that’s why he makes $13 million a year, and that’s what we signed him for.
“How about those games we lose in the sixth and seventh inning, too? Nobody sees those games. They don’t’ remember this. Lidge is the closer. He got signed to be the closer here for three years.”
Manuel did say that Lidge will need to work during spring training to improve his ability to hold runners on first base. Many times this season before Damon’s steal, runners stole second against Lidge and later scored key runs.
“There are things he is going to improve on, and holding runners is one of them,” Manuel said.
Manuel made similar comments about starter Cole Hamels, who also endured a letdown season.
“There’s no reason why he can’t be the same player we project,” the manager said.
When Johnny Damon stole second and began running toward third base in an important play Sunday, Manuel looked first at catcher Carlos Ruiz.
Despite the fact that pitcher Lidge was closer to the base than Ruiz, Manuel said today that he expected Ruiz to cover third.
“I’ll be very honest with you,” he said. “If we’re going to go over that and discuss it every day, in that situation, for me, [Carlos] Ruiz is going to cover third because he’s faster than Lidge and a better fielder and all that. He would be the guy that I would say to cover third base.”
“Let me tell you something: Every year we go to spring training, and when we go over our fundamentals and bunt plays, we might spend 10 minutes on that play,” Manuel said. “We might talk about it two times. That’s the first time I’ve seen that play happen against us. That play comes up sometime. I said there was a miscommunication. If you’re going to play the game in the right way, you talk about baseball from a fundamental standpoint. But what I’m saying is that play don’t come up that often. It’s kind of an instinct play. You’ve got to be heads-up in the game. You’ve got to know how you’ve got your defense set, and who’s going to cover third base.”