ATLANTA - Jamie Moyer did a lot more for the Phillies in April than go 3-1 with a 2.65 ERA in five starts.
According to multiple team sources, the veteran pitcher was one of the most forceful and influential voices in a pregame meeting called by manager Charlie Manuel when the Phillies were plodding along at 4-11 on April 21.
After the 80-minute meeting in Cincinnati, the Phils reeled off seven wins in their next nine games before last night's 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves.
"I think what he said had a positive effect on the team in general," second baseman Chase Utley said of Moyer.
"Moyer was good," Manuel confirmed. "He was very stern."
Details of the meeting, as usually is the case, have been closely guarded. But in recent days, sources have said Moyer helped light the team's fire by invoking a harsh and jarring word in calling out his teammates.
"We're playing like a bunch of [wimps]," he told them.
About a half-dozen players, Manuel and several coaches spoke in the meeting. According to sources, bench coach Jimy Williams and first-base coach Davey Lopes also made pointed remarks.
Williams told the team it was too concerned with style, adding that style mattered only in platform diving and gymnastics.
Lopes, an old-school product of the Los Angeles Dodgers' system, spoke for about 15 minutes, touching strongly on his distaste for pregame hugs and the fraternization that Phillies players engaged in with opposing teams. Lopes told the team that in his playing days, players spent the time before games plotting ways to beat the other team, not greet it.
Utley and Jimmy Rollins also had unspecified messages for the team.
"We got a lot of different ideas from a lot of different people," Manuel said.
Moyer's comments created the most buzz (and were quite well-received) around the organization, particularly the one about playing like wimps.
The lefthander, by the way, has won both his starts since the meeting, allowing just three runs in 131/3 innings.
The 44-year-old lefthander, who won his 219th career game Sunday, did not deny making the pointed remark, among others, yesterday, but he would not comment on specifics.
"I just wanted to give the team my feelings," he said. "I've always believed if you have things on your chest, you need to get them off. I tried to bring up points that I thought were valid and important to get across to my teammates.
"I'm at the point in my career where I want to win. That's it. I [re-signed] here because I thought this team had a really good chance of winning, because I liked what I saw late last season."
Moyer did offer a hint about his overall message.
"I've been around a long time, and I know that over the course of 162 games, there are times you may lose focus," he said. "You can't get caught up in personal things like 'I'm not hitting,' or 'I've allowed five home runs.' "
"I wasn't trying to offend anyone," he said. "If someone had a problem with it, they could have confronted me, but no one has."
No one will. Moyer is in his 21st season, and he is one of the most respected players in the game. Since coming to the Phillies in August, he has made 13 starts, and the Phils have won 10 of them.
"He's great," said Utley, speaking of Moyer as a pitcher and teammate. "He's awesome."
While Utley said he was unsure how much of the Phillies' turnaround stemmed from the meeting and how much stemmed from their offense's thawing, Moyer said the meeting was "very beneficial." He praised Manuel for his level-headed approach to the meeting and for opening the floor to anyone who wanted to speak.
"Everyone who said something added something good to the situation," Moyer said.