- The Washington Times - Friday, October 9, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In 2013, near the end of Davey Johnson’s tenure as manager of the Washington Nationals, Jayson Werth tossed out a name to replace him — his former manager with the Philadelphia Phillies, Charlie Manuel.

“I don’t know if he fits into the organization’s plans or whatever,” Werth told reporters in August 2013. “But I mean, I love playing for the guy.”

Well, guess what? Manuel would love to manage Werth again — this time in Washington.

“I’m not the kind of guy who will pick up the phone and look for a job, but I would definitely be interested in that job,” Manuel said by telephone. “Washington has a good team and they have some good baseball people there.”

Manuel was fired by the Phillies in August 2013 after eight-plus seasons — their most successful manager in franchise history. He led the Phillies to five National League East division titles, two NL pennants and a victory in the World Series in 2008.

But, with the Phillies struggling and the organization seeking a fresh voice, Manuel was fired, replaced by Ryne Sandberg, who has since been fired by Philadelphia.

It was a ceremonial dismissal, with Manuel and now former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. together in the press conference to announce the change. But Manuel made it clear at the time that leaving was not his idea.

“I didn’t resign and I did not quit,” he told reporters. “Let me tell you something, I’ve never quit anything. And I didn’t resign.”

Now, at the age of 71 — he will be 72 on Jan. 4 — Manuel wants back in the game.

“I definitely want to get back on the field,” he said. “I’m a baseball guy. I’m a manager, that’s what I want to do. I’m in good health and I’m looking to get back.”

He is considered a player’s manager who likes to give veterans their freedom, and is also considered to be very good at building relationships with players in the clubhouse.

You can add Manuel to the growing list of reported candidates for the managing job in Washington to replace Matt Williams, fired at the end of a disappointing 83-79 season and a second-place finish in the NL East. Former San Diego Padres manager Bud Black, on MLB Network Radio, said Wednesday that the Nationals job is a “very attractive position, very good team, great city. That’s a good one.”

Other reported candidates are Black’s bench coach from San Diego, Rick Renteria, the former manager of the Chicago Cubs; Dave Martinez, Joe Maddon’s long-time bench coach in Chicago and with the Tampa Bay Rays; former Cubs and San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker; former Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who had been a favorite of general manager Mike Rizzo during the Nationals’ last managing search but whose price tag was too high for the Nationals’ owners, the Lerner family.

That may be the case as well with Manuel, who was making nearly $4 million a year when he was let go by Philadelphia. In addition to paying a new manager, the Lerners will have to pay Williams for one more year of his contract.

When Rizzo spoke to reporters last week about the decision to fire Williams, he laid out the qualifications he will be looking for in his new manager.

“As we go through the laundry list of things we look for in our manager and the perfect leader of the ball club on the field, leadership qualities, knowledge of the game, Xs and Os are all important,” Rizzo said. “Communication in the clubhouse, communication within the coaching staff is vital.

“Experience is always helpful,” he said. “It always adds a layer of expertise to anybody’s resume. We feel that where we’re at in our time frame of winning a championship, certainly would lean toward someone who has some type of managerial experience, especially at the major league level. But, again, we’re going to be open-minded and look for the best candidate that we can that allows us to win a championship here in the very near future.”

Manuel grew up in Virginia and has extensive experience. He played for the Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1969 to 1975, primarily as a backup outfielder and pinch-hitter. He went to Japan in 1976, where he became a slugging star until he retired in 1981.

He was a successful minor-league manager in the Twins and Cleveland Indians organizations, and, after serving as the batting coach in Cleveland, was hired to manage the Indians in 2000, replacing Mike Hargrove. He led the Indians to the American League title in 2001, but was fired in 2002. He was hired to manage the Phillies after the 2004 season.

Manuel has a career major league managing record of 1,000-826, a .548 winning percentage. His postseason managing record is 29-22.

• Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com


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