07/28/12 6:57 PM ET
Manuel calling for improvement in play, attitude
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
They have a lot of holes to fill.
Asked if he is surprised at the amount of improvements that need to be made to a team that won a franchise-record 102 games last season, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Saturday, "I started seeing it early.
"We need some improvement, man. I mean, we can take our defense, our pitching and our offense, too. All three. We have to get better than that. Some people will say, 'You've got the same players.' Well, yeah, we do have a lot of the same players. At the same time, you still have to play at that level we used to.
"Still, when you look around at the pieces we have, there are a lot of new players, different players on our team. For some reason, people don't see that. I think they look and they see the names, especially with our starting pitching. Our starting pitching has to be better. If we're going to win, our starting pitching has to be better. Our bullpen has to get better. And our defense definitely has to get better.
"I think our offense has already picked up some since we got [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard [back], and once we get those guys going, where they're ready to go every day and they've got their timing, I think we're going to score runs."
The Phillies were still a relatively young team when they began their run of five consecutive National League East championships in 2007.
That's no longer the case.
"One time, we had the greatest attitude and best hustle of any team I ever had," Manuel said. "Teams used to tell me, general managers used to tell me they had just as much talent but we had more heart. I always thought we had the talent and the heart. Seriously. We kind of slipped a little bit. I think our play shows that."
How do the Phillies get that back?
"When guys make mistakes, they keep on making them and making them over," Manuel said. "[Hall of Famer] Walter Alston's theory: Pretty soon you get tired of seeing those mistakes. Something has to be done about them. And what are you going to do about them? If you've been playing baseball 10, 15 years, you've been playing in the big leagues for a long time, there is something you have to do about them. That was his philosophy. I always thought he was pretty good.
"We get outplayed. We beat Milwaukee in those three games because we had the last at-bat. That's how we beat them."
The Phillies beat the Brewers by identical 7-6 scores July 23-25.
Ruiz out of starting lineup with left foot pain
ATLANTA -- Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz has been battling a left foot problem and did not start against the Braves on Saturday.
Ruiz is expected to be in the starting lineup Sunday for the series finale at Turner Field.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Ruiz has plantar faciitis, which Ruiz said is causing him problems.
"Sometimes when I wake up, it's tough to walk," Ruiz told reporters.
At times, Ruiz said it "felt like a knife" was in the back of his foot.
Young Phillies bullpen putting talent on display
ATLANTA -- Two weeks is not long enough to draw any firm conclusions, but a young Phillies bullpen is 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA in its last 11 games.
It averaged 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, and opponents hit .214 against it in that stretch.
"There might be some growing pains," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before Saturday's game against the Braves at Turner Field. "They're going to get put into some tough spots. They're going to start getting into situations. That's who we've got, and that's who we'll use. At the same time, they do have talent. That right there is how they get better."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.