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05/15/09 7:20 PM ET

Manuel reflects on Zimmerman's streak

Phillies skipper impressed with infielder's scorching bat

WASHINGTON -- Just because his Phillies weren't playing the Washington Nationals yet doesn't mean that Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel wasn't keeping track of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's hitting streak.

The streak ended at 30 games Wednesday against San Francisco, still 26 games shy of Joe DiMaggio's Major League record 56, which was set in the summer of 1941.

But that didn't make Zimmerman's feat only half as impressive, at least not in Manuel's eyes.

"I kept up with him, I watched most of the games," Manuel said. "Not only did he have that streak, but he hit some balls awfully hard. He was doing some good hitting."

Manuel, 65, started his playing career back in the 1960s. So while he's nowhere near old enough to remember DiMaggio's heroics, he's had a front-row seat to watch how the game has changed over the years.

And those changes, he thinks, have made crafting a streak like Zimmerman's even more challenging.

"In some ways, we're talking about completely different eras of baseball," Manuel said. "For Zimmerman to have a hitting streak like that is phenomenal because pitchers will throw 3-0 changeups and 3-0 sliders and 3-0 forkballs and splits. And they don't mind walking you, so it becomes that much tougher."

In DiMaggio's day, on the other hand, that wasn't necessarily the case.

"I think when he had his hitting streak it was more of a 'macho' game," Manuel said. "You're talking about two different eras and two completely different ways of thinking about baseball."

That said, Manuel doesn't believe, as some do, that DiMaggio's streak is unbreakable.

"A streak like that takes a lot of luck. You've got to have a lot of things go your way, but somewhere along the line I think it can be done," Manuel said. "There will come along some high-talented offensive player, a guy that can run and move the baseball, and with the way pitching is nowadays and ballparks being smaller, a guy could reach it."

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.