Notes: Manuel not leaving haven
Indians heading to Arizona next spring, but not Phils skipper
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- Charlie Manuel couldn't get very sentimental about his last business trip to Chain of Lakes Park.A longtime member of the Cleveland organization before becoming Philadelphia's manager, Manuel brought the Phillies here for the last time for Saturday's exhibition. This is the Indians' final Spring Training here. Next year, they join the Cactus League exodus, relocating to Goodyear, Ariz. The Indians are leaving, but Manuel isn't going anywhere. He has made his winter home in this haven since 1993, when the Indians first trained here and Manuel was a manager in their Minor League system. "Live about five miles away. I only come here when we play them," Manuel said. "But I drive by it an awful lot." Chain of Lakes Park, on the shores of Lake Lulu, is unlikely to again host a Major League Spring Training. The quaint facility will be preserved for use by high school and college teams. One recollection made Manuel laugh out loud: The Lulu Ness Monster. Gene Mathews, a longtime member of the park's ground crew, who is nicknamed Gator for good reason, once hid a five-foot alligator in the locker of pitcher Wayne Kirby. "Ol' Kirby reaches into his locker for something. His eyes get as big as saucers and he jumps five feet, then just takes off," Manuel recalled. Not all the memories provoke smiles. The Indians' very first Spring Training here was ruined by unspeakable tragedy -- the boat accident that killed pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews, and severely injured another, Bob Ojeda. Even in a Philadelphia uniform, Manuel couldn't escape some horrible news here. The Phillies were also in Chain of Lakes Park last March 8 when word came of the death of coach John Vukovich. Vukovich passed away at 59, soon after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.