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10/13/08 5:55 PM ET

Pregame interview with Charlie Manuel

Phillies manager talks pitching prior to Game 4 of NLCS

I know you said all postseason that you've wanted to stay away from Cole [Hamels] on short rest because he's never done it before. But do you regret maybe that you guys didn't do that at some point this year, to give yourself the opportunity, because he could have pitched tonight and Game 7 if he pitched on short rest?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the way we've handled Cole Hamels has been definitely the proper way to handle him. And I think that -- do I regret something? Not at all. I think that we have to have a plan. I think it was the right plan.

Charlie, how does Jimmy [Rollins] look to you at the plate right now?

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CHARLIE MANUEL: Jimmy looks to me like his timing is off a little bit, but at the same time the last couple of days, last night he chased a lot of slow stuff. And his swing is not -- he's not as short and quick when he's hitting good.

He can correct that. The other night, I felt like he got called out on a couple of high fastballs. I felt like they were borderline pitches. Of course, I'm not saying they're balls or strikes, but like when he's hitting good, so he don't swing at those balls up there anyway.

And, like, he's been kind of getting in between at the plate, as far as between fastballs and breaking balls, and he's been late on fastballs, and he's been too early on slow stuff, especially when he chases it down like down off the plate.

Joe Torre was in here talking about momentum and how important it is in the postseason. He said he senses a change in his clubhouse. Are you worried after last night the pendulum may have swung back to the Dodgers?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think after they won the game last night and how they came out and, what, they scored five runs in the first inning. The way they hit the ball, I think definitely they picked up some momentum. By winning, it's definitely an encouragement to the team, but also, I know our guys, and I think for about the last two years definitely, we are a resilient team.

And that's what we go by. We play day by day. And if we keep that same course and we stay with what's got us here and how we did it, I feel like things are going to work out good for us and, like, we definitely can bounce back.

We had talked a little bit yesterday about Ryan Howard seeing the ball coming out of the pitcher's hands and going after that offspeed stuff, did you see some improvement last night from him?

CHARLIE MANUEL: He stayed on the ball, and he stayed on the ball. He's more patient at the plate, if you noticed. And he got a couple of hits, and he got good swings. And that's basically what happens when he is successful at the plate, when he hits good.

Yeah, I mean, I'm looking for him to play good tonight. Once he finds his swing he usually keeps it for a while.

What was Joe Blanton doing so well against the Brewers in that start, and what do you look for from Joe to know that he's going to be successful?

CHARLIE MANUEL: Last time out, Joe Blanton, to me, had his best game. And he had a better fastball, better velocity. His velocity set around anywhere from 89 to every now and then touched 94.

And he was very aggressive. And he had very good command, and he threw strike one. He got ahead of the hitters, by getting ahead of them he used his changeup and breaking ball to his advantage. He didn't get away from his game plan the whole six innings he pitched, and he was very good. But the fact that he threw strike one and he was more aggressive, his command was the best I'd seen.

Like I said before two days ago, he pitched two good games during the season: one of them in St. Louis -- pitched a tremendous game against a good team -- and he had a good game against Pittsburgh, where he was real low in the strike zone, stuffed on the fastball.

I asked Joe [Torre] the same question. Do you think that compared to the days when you played pitchers have sort of lost the art of throwing inside and even throwing purpose pitches the right way, and, if so, why?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think over the course of time, when pitchers -- back when Joe and I played, I think the game was more -- definitely more aggressive. I think any time a pitcher got ahead of you, like 0-2, like 1-2, if you weren't careful, he'd like to stand you up, like to loosen you up, and he would make -- he would be very aggressive.

I think nowadays, with the way guys jump back from a ball and the way that they act like that you about killed them when you throw inside and miss them, I think the umpires, they see that, and also I think, at times, the umpire is reluctant to call a ball inside. And therefore the pitcher, he stays more away, because he's looking to get ahead in the count and he's looking for the best way to pitch.

And sometimes they say, 'Why do I want to throw inside if he's only going to call it a ball?' And I think -- I hear that a lot. I'm not saying that that's exactly how it is. But to me, like, if you've got a pitch inside I tell our pitchers. I tell Brett Myers especially, like, when you throw your fastball, don't get in the habit of throwing it just away. You've got to stand hitters up. You've got to throw inside.

Standing a hitter up, as long as you keep the ball in front of the guy, you're not trying to hit him, if that makes sense. When you're trying to hit him, I think I said yesterday, is when you throw kind of behind them or up behind their head. You can hit the guy because he'll freeze. But at the same time, as long as you keep the ball in front of the guy, and just because you hit a guy, if a guy dives, Martin does dive, he dives. He steps in.

And if you dive a lot and you're looking away and somebody smokes you inside, the ball inside, as long as they keep it in front of you, they're not trying to hit. But if you stride into the ball and it hits you, doesn't mean that the pitcher is trying to hit you. But an aggressive pitcher who pitches on both sides of the plate, he has to have those pitches to be good.

After what happened last night, a lot of Dodgers talked about they don't want to be pushed around, they felt they had to stand up for themselves. With them talking about as kind of a payback for the Myers thing, does everything go even now and people just move ahead with the series? Or do you think there's still an underlying thing between the two clubs?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I want to see the game run right. But at the same time, like I said, I want our pitchers to pitch the game the right way. And if throwing inside is part of it, then I'm sure Joe probably feels the same way. Like he wants -- like he wants his pitchers to pitch some inside.

As far as hitting people, I'm definitely against automatically hitting somebody or trying to hit somebody. But at the same time I'm also -- I'm also for standing them up. I want the game to be run right. I want to see us have a good series and whatever. I mean, that's what -- so far that's part of baseball, and that's a part that you've got to go through, too.

I think the best way is for us to kind of, sum it up quickly for you, like [Chase] Utley, they threw the ball up in front of him, he kind of spit at it. You get back in there and you try to see if you can't hit the ball real hard.

And things will work out for you. And the best language I can tell you, just let that Louisville talk for you instead of running your mouth, you'll be all right.

Wonder if you can comment on whether you see any difference in Cole Hamels, either in his approach, his emotions in the postseason, than you did during the regular season?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the difference that I see is the fact he's been getting proper rest that he needed, mentally and physically. I think Cole Hamels pitches a lot. If you go back and follow the season, I think that he pitched a shutout and then he pitched a game with 126 pitches, or 124, something like that, the most he's thrown.

And then following back-to-back, he threw in Washington, threw 116 pitches. I think he had three games where his fastball -- first time I ever see him lose control of his fastball up high. He went about three games that way. And I think once he got back in his regular when he got his rest, his proper and everything, his routine, I felt like that's -- the last couple of games I felt like that's been big for him.

His fastball has been down. He's had good command of his fastball plus his changeup and his breaking ball. Hamels is real good when his breaking ball, when he can handle it for a strike. That gives him three pitches to pitch with, and that's when he's real good.

But his command is the biggest thing. And you see him when he's up, more than likely he's -- on those days -- is when he'll get tired and, like, he'll get a little fatigued.

Along those lines, towards the end of the season, the bullpen had shown a few cracks here and there. But this postseason, I think they were giving up five runs in the entire two series. Do you think it was just the rest in between the end of the regular season or start of playoffs, or do you see something else in there that has them back in their groove?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think what really happened to our bullpen, actually, is the first part of the season all the way up through the middle we had a pretty good bullpen. When [Tom] Gordon was there, our setup guy, then [Ryan] Madson, [Chad] Durbin, and [J.C.] Romero, they'd pitch the whole eighth inning at times. But every now and then, not on a regular basis, but once Gordon went down, we were called upon to kind of pushed them back into more pitching and more duty.

And I think it took them a little while in the fact that we lost some games that way, I felt that they responded very good as far as aggressive and coming out, like, more determined. And that's a good sign of who they are. And also I think the more rest they got, I think that made them sharper. I think there was a period where they definitely probably got overworked some.

How much, I guess, the makeup and the variety within the bullpen that you have this year, how is that compared to teams you've managed in Philadelphia the past few years as well as when you managed in Cleveland?

CHARLIE MANUEL: Our bullpen this year in Philadelphia, our bullpen, the timing in the bullpen, this is probably the best bullpen we've had. My first year when we was here and we had [Billy] Wagner and middle of the season we got [Ugueth] Urbina and by the end of the season that was pretty good, eighth inning on. We still had trouble getting through the sixth and seventh, at times.

But that was pretty good with this year's bullpen, and it's turned out it's worked real good for us, and I think Durbin, in the fact Madson has been more consistent, especially in the back part of the season, second half of the season, I feel like Romero is being consistent from last year. I feel like that definitely held our bullpen together.

But with [Brad] Lidge in the back closing the games, I felt that once we get to the seventh inning, we've got a good chance of closing that game out.

I think if you look from the eighth inning to the ninth inning, especially with a lead, we're pretty good.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.