Former Phillies slugger Jim Thome says you’ll know new Phillies hitting coach Charlie Manuel is having an impact on the offense when you see batters locking in on individual pitches.
“They won’t necessarily cover everything,” the first-ballot Hall of Famer turned studio analyst said on the MLB Network on Tuesday night. “It might be a breaking ball. It might be a guy’s got a change-up he knows Bryce Harper can handle.”
Thome, who played for Manuel in the minor leagues and during stints with the Phillies and the Cleveland Indians, said Manuel would give signals from the dugout during games to let batters know what pitches to sit on at the plate.
“Him and I had such a trust and relationship. … If I saw Charlie during the game as my hitting guy go like this [raising arm in the air], I was off everything else and sat on breaking ball,” Thome said.
“So he’s not buried there looking at a chart going, ‘2-1, I think what he’s doing,” MLB Tonight host and former second baseman Harold Reynolds said, bringing up the analytic approach favored by Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
“In his mind, he had his computer [pointing to his head]. … He didn’t need information,” Thome responded. “I’d strike out. Guys would be pounding me inside with fastballs. [Manuel] goes, ‘It’s all right. One’s going to miss out over the plate. We’ll take that one.' "
Thome has repeatedly credited Manuel over the years for turning him into one of the greatest power hitters of his generation. During his time in Cleveland and Philadelphia, Manuel had an impact on a wide variety of highly successfully batters, including Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, Dave Winfield, and Eddie Murray, not to mention Phillies legends Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins.
“If I’m Bryce Harper, if I’m Rhys Hoskins, the next two months, I mean, I follow this guy everywhere,” Thome said. “I listen to everything he says, because he’s one of the greatest, iconic hitting guys in all of baseball, maybe of all time.”
During an interview on 94.1 WIP Wednesday morning, Kapler praised Manuel’s calming presence in the dugout and with the team.