- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 11, 2008

— Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, whose mother died Friday morning, boarded a team charter for Los Angeles after the Phillies’ 8-5 win over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Friday, but his status for Sunday’s Game 3 was unclear.

Funeral arrangements were still pending on Friday night, so a service wouldn’t likely occur until next week, but the Phillies hadn’t announced Manuel’s plans as they headed west.

June Manuel, 87, had been admitted to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital in Roanoke, Va., earlier in the week. The Phillies didn’t have details on the cause of her death.

Charlie Manuel was notified Friday morning after a meeting with his coaches, and stoically watched batting practice from behind the cage. Dodgers manager Joe Torre offered Manuel condolences during batting practice, as did left fielder Manny Ramirez, who played for Manuel in 2000 with the Cleveland Indians.

“It sometimes gives you a place to hide where you’re so busy that it’s going to be a lot easier,” said Torre, who managed his first World Series with the Yankees in 1996 after his brother Rocco died earlier in the year and his brother Frank was in the hospital recovering from a heart transplant. “It was a lot easier probably during the game than it is now when he goes home.”

Manuel had a close relationship with his mother. In a Mother’s Day tribute for MLB.com in 2005, he wrote: “I can’t imagine a better person in the world than my mother. I hope everybody’s mom is like mine. She’s been very special to me, and I’ve been very lucky to have a mother like her.”

She still lived in Buena Vista, Va., where Charlie Manuel grew up. She is survived by 10 children.

High school reunion

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. | As a junior at Spring High School, Josh Beckett struck out 172 batters in a singe season to establish a Texas state record. Four years later, a left-hander named Scott Kazmir, pitching for rival Cypress Falls, punched out 175 to break Beckett’s record.

Who knew the two Lone Star State fireballers would one day face each other in the American League Championship Series?

Beckett and Kazmir, the respective aces of the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, will start Saturday night in Game 2 at Tropicana Field, ready to renew a rivalry of sorts.

Though they missed a head-to-head encounter as prep stars, each hurler knew plenty about the other.

“I’ve watched him since high school,” Kazmir said. “You just pick up a lot of things from a guy like that, just how competitive he is and how he goes about his business. I get a chance to talk to him whenever I can and kind of pick apart his brain.”

Beckett, who posted an 0.36 ERA one year in high school, is better-known these days for his postseason dominance. He owns a 6-2 playoff record with a 2.09 ERA and two World Series titles.

The right-hander, though, has been hampered by a strained oblique muscle. The injury seemed to have a significant effect on him during his last start in Game 3 of the ALDS, and it prompted Boston to push him back to Game 2 of this series.

But Beckett feels fine heading into this outing.

“I definitely think the last five days have kind of gotten a little more normal, as far as being able to do everything that I generally do,” he said.

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