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Manuel Rails Against Phils' Complacency After Loss

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Jim Salisbury,
Thu Jun 3, 4:51 AM UTC

ATLANTA – Charlie Manuel was seated and staring down at the desk when reporters entered the visiting manager’s office at Turner Field after the Phillies’ most recent loss Wednesday afternoon.

Before looking up, Manuel let out a long, deep sigh.

For a guy who tries to be upbeat as often as possible, it was a telling moment. Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves was the Phillies’ 11th defeat in 15 games. In that span, the Phils have nose-dived from five games up in the National League East to 2½ games back. Offense, or lack thereof, has been the main culprit, as the Phils have averaged just 1.7 runs in the last 15 games. They have scored zero or one run in seven of their last 11 games.

Though he never raised his voice and showed little animation in meeting with reporters, Manuel’s frustration with his team came out clearly in a lengthy monologue toward the end of the interview session.

Manuel questioned the team’s focus and wondered aloud whether the players and other members of the organization had been spoiled by the success of winning a World Series and back-to-back NL titles.

He used the word “complacency” several times.

He also used the words “cockiness’’ and “big-headedness.”

He said he has seen these dubious qualities for some time, not just recently.

“When you play this game you can’t take anything for granted,” Manuel said. “This game is an every-day process, and just because you did something last year doesn’t mean you’ll do it again this year. You have to keep the same intensity and drive. This is a new day. You have to keep proving yourself.”

Deep down inside, Manuel was agitated even before the Phillies were beaten on an eighth-inning single and squandered what he called Kyle Kendrick’s best start of the season.

Manuel was upset that 2½ hours before the game, a number of players and other inhabitants of the clubhouse busied themselves watching the movie Gran Torino on a large flat-screen TV in the middle of the room. Nothing against Clint Eastwood, but Manuel would rather have seen a little more seriousness in the room before the game.

“I get upset,” Manuel said. “I’ll tell you guys. I got upset when I came in and saw everybody looking at movies. We had a whole audience in there looking at movies and [crap]. I thought, ‘What the hell? We should be getting ready for the damn game.’ I don’t like things like that.”

Ninety minutes before first pitch, with the clubhouse mostly empty and the movie over, Manuel ordered a clubhouse attendant to turn the TV off.

“Down through the years in Philly, I always tell our team they are the ones that do it -- their attitude and their way of thinking. I always talk about making sure we keep those things. And when it goes bad is when we really need to stay focused and stay on the right path. That’s what keeps you there.

“Now, if you get complacent, and you get satisfied because you got a big deal or you make more money and you know that you’re set … . Or if you’re a bench player and you come over here and you get a two- or a three-year deal or something like that and you feel good about yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the same time, we still want those people to have the same drive they’ve always had.

“I see a whole lot of cockiness, big-headedness and complacency. It’s an every-day process to be good. You don’t take it easy or you slip.”

Manuel said he does his best to keep complacency from infiltrating his team, and those around it, but sometimes that’s difficult because “of the surrounding things and how the game is run.”

Success comes with many perks such as money and endorsements. Even Manuel has reaped the benefits. He just wants his team to remember what earned it all those trappings.

Shane Victorino seemed a little surprised by his manager’s postgame comments.

“I’ve never seen that in this room,” he said when asked about the alleged complacency. “But if he sees it, I would never disagree with the manager. The way I look at it is that we’re confident that we are good enough to get out of this rut. From what I see, we’re not complacent. In the back of our minds, we’ve been through this and we know we can play ourselves out of it. But I also understand the way Charlie sees it. It’s frustrating for him.”

While Manuel was critical of his team, he also expressed faith in it.

He said he was sure that Chase Utley would snap out of his offensive funk and confident that Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard would hit. He promised that the Phils would be a different team when Jimmy Rollins returned from the disabled list and Placido Polanco returned from a sore elbow (Polanco should be back Friday night).

“I know how good this offense can be,” Manuel said. “Every year you get tested in this game and this is a good test for us. This is a good measuring stick for us. If we pass it, we’ll get better. This is a test, a chance for us to prove how good we are – if we get up and come back.”

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