LAKEWOOD, NJ - The 2012 campaign was not what the Philadelphia Phillies and skipper Charlie Manuel had in mind, but they are both ready to turn the page and focus on a better 2013.
"We never really got going out of the gate," admitted Manuel. "We definitely had a lot of injuries and had Howard and Utley out for over half the season, and Halladay was injured too which hurt our rotation and put a lot of stress on the bullpen."
Manuel addressed the media prior to the Phillies Winter Tour festivities began at Woodlake Country Club. He spoke candidly on last year, and expressed that he was ready for spring training and the 2013 season.
"It's been a long offseason, a lot of looking back on last year. I'm really looking forward to this season; I've been ready to go for a while...I'm heading down to Clearwater and we'll be off and running."
The NL East has always been an intense division, and this year will be no different. Washington has a staff full of young arms that led them to the NL East crown last season. Atlanta is a mainstay at the top of the division. The Mets and Marlins are one or two key pieces away from being top contenders and causing an even bigger rift in the division.
Manuel stated that the division is one of the most competitive in the MLB and that he doesn't care who is favored; the Phillies will be in the running in the end.
"It is a tough NL East, the toughest division in the league. Everyone is coming out and picking Washington, and maybe they should, but we are going to fly under the radar and contend."
In hopes of being a contender, the Phillies have added key pieces and have enough talent in the system to fill the holes of last year's team.
"We've added Mike Young, Ben Revere, and Delmon Young. Mike seems like a great leader and clubhouse guy, an Utley type, that's going to be an asset," Manuel said, "Revere has the speed we need. Delmon and Darin Ruf are going to fill our outfield nicely, and our bullpen grew up a lot last year, I expect all of them to have a huge impact this year."
The year ahead marks the final year of Manuel's contract with the Phillies, but he's not feeling any added pressure to perform in order to extend his tenure with the team.
"Let me tell you something," he said, "I look at where I have been and what I have done and the experience I have gotten and also my age. I've been in the same situation that I'm in this year so it doesn't bother me. When I think about it, it's kind of up to us to go out there and play the best we possibly can and things will take care of themselves."
He continued to reminisce about his time with the Phillies and his love of the game. His final remarks were something that the Phillies organization and fan base can all agree on.
The manager paused before he concluded,
"From my standpoint, no I'm not retiring. I love the Phillies and my future is up to them."
- BlueClaws -
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.