July 24 Inquirer
Charlie Manuel said it was his decision to make the late-night change in hitting instructors.
“I got to the point where I looked at our hitting and I felt something had to be done,” the Phillies’ manager said Friday, 18 hours after informing Milt Thompson that he was being replaced by Greg Gross. “The only thing I could possibly think of was a change.”
It’s an interesting alteration because Manuel is best known for his ability to teach hitting, something he did for six successful years as the Cleveland Indians’ hitting instructor. He said he does not get a chance to teach hitting as much in the manager’s role.
“I talk to our guys about hitting, but I don’t consistently every day,” Manuel said. “That’s my hitting coach’s job. That’s his position. That’s what he is supposed to do. It’s a tough job. It’s a 24-hour-a-day job.”
Manuel said replacing Thompson with Gross was “the hardest decision I ever had to make” because of the success the team has enjoyed. The Phillies were first or second in runs scored in each of Thompson’s first five seasons as the Phillies’ hitting instructor.
They rank sixth in that department in the National League.
“I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision at all,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. “A couple World Series, division titles, and National League titles, then this year was very uncharacteristic as far as the offense was concerned.”
Thompson said by phone that he was surprised when Manuel informed him of his decision.
“You have to understand that we have been decimated by injuries,” Thompson said. “Our guys have been trying too hard. I’m not trying to make excuses. We had some successful teams, but every year is not going to be a great year. If you look at our successful years, we did not have a lot of injuries.”
Thompson said he has no ill feelings toward Manuel or the Phillies.
“They said they needed a new voice,” Thompson said. “I have to respect that. I’m sure I’m going to have a job in baseball next season. I had a great ride here. I had a chance to go to the World Series as a player and a coach and this group of guys has been tremendous.”
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