Written by Bryan Littel
For the first time in more than eight years, Charlie Manuel won't head straight to Citizens Bank Ballpark after waking up at his Haddonfield home tomorrow morning.
The first Phillies' skipper to win a World Series in more than three decades, Manuel is officially out as the ballclub's manager and will be replaced with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who had been the Phillies' third-base coach and previously managed the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
In an emotional news conference Friday afternoon, general manager Reuben Amaro Jr. fought back tears as he made the announcement official, calling Manuel a key part of the team's history and success.
“He's a special person,” Amaro said, his voice breaking. “This is difficult for me.”
But rather than drag the decision out over the final 40 or so games of the season, Amaro said it was in the team's best interests to part ways with Manuel and give Sandberg a shot on an interim basis.
“It's a change I think the Phillies need to make as we look to the future,” he said.
Neither Amaro or Manuel referred to the move as a firing, but said they came to an understanding over the course of the last week or so, with the final decision being made about two days ago.
“I did not resign, and I did not quit,” Manuel said. “I never quit nothing...I definitely wanted to put my team and the Philadelphia Phillies above myself.”
Though Amaro said an offer's been extended to keep Manuel in the organization—“I would love to have him work with me,” the GM said—Manuel said he's unsure of what his next move will be.
“I need to get some time off and sit down and think,” he said. “I think I can manage a couple more years. I'm not saying that's what I'm going to do.”
There had been plenty of speculation about Manuel's future with the club, given his expiring contract and the team's 4-19 record since the All-Star break. Amaro said he considered letting Manuel finish out 2013, but ultimately decided against it.
“In my mind, I toiled whether we should wait until the end of the year,” Amaro said. “I didn't see any reason why we should drag it out...I don't think that was fair to him.”
The discussions Amaro and Manuel had about the manager's job never swung into anger, both men said, and both said they accept responsibility for the team's failings over the past several seasons.
“I'm not here to blame Charlie Manuel for our issues,” Amaro said. “My job is to think about what we need to do to get better in the future.”
Both men expressed optimism about where the Phillies can go from here, and Manuel said the team will be in capable hands with Sandberg calling the on-field shots.
“I've liked him since the first day I met him,” Manuel said. “Where he's at, he definitely deserves a chance at managing in the major leagues. He'll be a real good manager.”
There are question marks beyond this season, though. Amaro was adamant Sandberg is only the interim manager, and no far-reaching decisions have been made.
“We'll be thinking about who the right person is to move the club forward,” Amaro said. “I think there is the possibility that Ryne would be the manager beyond 2013. I haven't really made a decision one way or the other.”
Likewise, Amaro didn't speculate much on what changes would be necessary for the team, though he did say he's considering moves to help strengthen things for 2014 and beyond.
“My feeling is will still have talent,” he said. “Those core players are still very talented...they can help us get back to being a championship-caliber club.”
Manuel's ouster and Sandberg's promotion also mean the Phillies have to make some other, lower-key moves—Juan Samuel is moving to the third-base coach's position, and Wally Joyner is shifting to become the first-base coach.