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Manuel to return to Phillies

The former manager is expected to rejoin the team in a front-office role.

LESS THAN 5 months after being the fall guy for the franchise's first losing season in 11 seasons, Charlie Manuel is returning to the Phillies.

Manuel, fired as the team's manager in August, has accepted a front-office position with the team for the 2014 season, a source confirmed yesterday. Although no official announcement has come from the team, Manuel is expected to hold a role similar to the one he had when he first joined the organization in 2003, 2 years before his 9-year run as manager began.

The news of Manuel's return was first reported by Brian Startare of 97.5 The Fanatic.

When the latest front-office addition becomes official, the Phillies will have an impressive collection of former managers and general managers in their stable.

Each of the previous two general managers (Pat Gillick and Ed Wade) and managers (Manuel and Larry Bowa) will work in some capacity with current general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg.

With Manuel returning, the Phillies also have the only two managers in franchise history to lead the team to World Series in their front office. Dallas Green, the manager of the 1980 Phillies, works as a senior adviser to Amaro.

Manuel's title will probably be very similar. Last month, Amaro outlined what he thought Manuel would end up doing should he accept the job.

"He could be a hitting guru with the organization [and do some] troubleshooting and scouting, much like he was when he was here for [former general manager] Ed Wade," Amaro said before Christmas. "I hope he comes on. He would be a tremendous asset for us. I think he can help us and me in a variety of ways."

Five months ago, Manuel walked out of Citizens Bank Park with little more than a Wawa bag in hand. Although he wasn't thrilled, Manuel had agreed to take part in a news conference with Amaro to announce his dismissal as manager of the Phillies. Amaro choked back tears during the news conference and offered the exiting manager a front-office position as a parting gift.

But Manuel, who turned 70 earlier this month, almost certainly wanted to continue managing.

The folksy former skipper eats, sleeps and breathes baseball, often arriving to the ballpark hours before his players. He puts on a baseball uniform as routinely as others his age put on "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune." But his age almost certainly worked against him, as major league teams have trended toward hiring younger, less-experienced managers in recent years.

Instead, Manuel's managing career likely comes to an end after accepting a front-office job with the Phillies. He is arguably the most successful manager in the team's history, helping guide the Phillies to a World Series championship in 2008 and an National League pennant in 2009, while also collecting five consecutive NL East division titles (2007-2011). In 2011, Manuel's Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games.

Manuel is the all-time winningest Phillies manager (780-636). Four days before he was fired last summer, he collected his 1,000th career victory as a manager in a 5-1 victory over Braves in Atlanta.