PHILADELPHIA — Charlie Manuel was fired as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, with his team way out of the pennant race and in a tailspin since the All-Star break.
Manuel, the winningest manager in franchise history, was replaced by Hall of Famer and former Cubs second baseman Ryne Sandberg, the Phillies’ third-base coach. Sandberg managed the Phillies’ Triple-A team at Lehigh Valley the previous two seasons.
“I never quit nothing and I didn’t resign,” Manuel said, making it clear this decision came from the front office.
With Manuel seated to his left, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. broke down in tears after making the announcement and saying the former manager has a job with the team if he wants it.
“You people may not know the relationship I’ve had with Charlie. He’s a special person. This is difficult for me. I hope he stays in our organization,” Amaro said.
Amaro said he informed Manuel of the decision not to extend his contract earlier this week in Atlanta. Manuel managed against the Braves on Wednesday night knowing it was his last game.
Sandberg takes over beginning with Friday night’s game against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
“These guys are professional players, they’re getting paid well,” said Sandberg, who was introduced at a news conference before the game. “Sometimes players have to dig deeper, play with pride, play with heart and or the name on the front of the uniform.”
The Phillies have lost 19 of 24 games since last month’s All-Star break. They are in fourth place and 20½ games out of first in the NL East.
The 69-year-old Manuel has been a folksy presence in the Phillies’ dugout since the beginning of the 2005 season. He led Philadelphia to the franchise’s second World Series title in 2008 and brought the team back to the series in 2009, when they lost to the Yankees in six games.
Manuel was 780-636 with the Phillies and won five straight NL East titles from 2007-2011. He also spent three years as manager with the Cleveland Indians, winning the AL Central in 2001.
Even with an aging roster, the Phillies were expected to contend in the NL East this season, but the team has fallen apart.
Two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay has missed most of the season with an injury. Slugger Ryan Howard also has been out with an injury. High-priced reliever Jonathan Papelbon has struggled to close, and apart from Chase Utley and Dominic Brown the Phillies haven’t hit much.