NEW YORK - Charlie Manuel isn't one to overdose on team meetings. He believes in calling them only occasionally, when something is really bothering him, when something needs to be addressed.
Something was bothering Manuel on Aug. 9. His team lost to the Florida Marlins, 12-3. It was the Phillies' eighth defeat in 11 games.
Manuel called a meeting after that game, and, according to witnesses, blasted his team for its shoddy play.
The Phils are 11-2 since.
Did the trip to the woodshed have a positive impact on the Phils?
"Absolutely," said Jayson Werth. "The stuff he said hit home, and we've all played better since then. Charlie doesn't do it a lot. He's always seen and heard, but he doesn't have a lot of meetings. So when he does, everyone knows he's not happy."
Werth said the team was embarrassed by its play even before the meeting.
"It was especially embarrassing for the guys who'd been here a while," he said. "To put on that showing for the new guys, we were embarrassed."
Werth called Manuel's meeting "a wake-up call," and he praised the manager for the way he conducted himself during it. Manuel made his point - strongly - but he didn't alienate any players.
"The one thing he stressed was: 'This isn't us,' and that hit home," Werth said. "Even though he was ripping into us, he was still very positive. I've played for people that tend to go 'negativetown' pretty quickly. With Charlie, there's always a positive undertone, and that makes a big difference."
Howard's big day
Ryan Howard belted a three-run homer in the first inning and a two-run homer in the third inning in yesterday's 6-2 win over the Mets.
Both homers came against hard-throwing Bobby Parnell, who challenged Howard with fastballs and lost. Howard's first homer came on a 2-2 pitch. Howard had been beaten on the previous two pitches, fastballs clocked at 94 and 95 m.p.h. Parnell tried to pump another fastball by Howard, but the Phils' cleanup man got the barrel of the bat on a 96 m.p.h. offering that was up in the zone (but not up enough) and muscled it over the left-field wall.
In the third inning, with the count full, Howard pulled a 96 m.p.h. fastball into the second deck in right field.
"I think Ryan liked the fact that Parnell came at him with fastballs, and he was determined to get him," Manuel said.
Howard has 34 homers and 104 RBIs. This is the fourth straight year he has reached 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs, joining Hall of Famer Chuck Klein as the only Phillies to do that.
Fittingly, Howard's second homer landed near an advertisement for Subway sandwiches. Howard does commercials for the company. Howard said Mets fans rode him pretty hard during the four-game series, asking him if he preferred the chipotle cheesesteak or the teriyaki chicken sandwich.
"They were pounding me," he said.
The idea of a Philadelphia athlete eating a cheesesteak with chipotle sauce sounds blasphemous.
"Hey, I don't make the sandwiches," Howard said. "I just endorse them."
Werth was named NL player of the week for Aug. 17-23. He hit .440 with five homers and nine RBIs in that span. . . . The Phillies have promoted shortstop Freddy Galvis to double-A Reading. The 19-year-old Venezuelan, the team's top infield prospect, is a dazzling fielder. . . . The Phils took three of four from the Mets with Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins both getting some valuable rest. Utley was out of the starting lineup Sunday. Rollins entered the game as a pinch-hitter yesterday. . . . Hall of Fame officials have asked for a souvenir from Eric Bruntlett's game-ending unassisted triple play Sunday. He will send the jersey he wore. . . . Former Phillie Billy Wagner pitched a scoreless inning for the Mets yesterday. He could be on his way to Boston if a proposed trade goes through today. A Red Sox scout watched Wagner strike out two yesterday. Wagner missed most of the season recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery.
The Mets got some bad news on the injury front. Lefthander Johan Santana will have an MRI and miss tonight's start because of elbow tenderness. An MRI showed that rightfielder Jeff Francoeur tore a ligament in his thumb diving for a ball off the bat of Bruntlett on Sunday. . . . The Phils open a series in Pittsburgh tonight. The Pirates are headed for their record 17th straight losing season. They share the record with the Phillies, who had 16 losing seasons from 1933 to 1948.