CLEARWATER, Fla. — Charlie Manuel wants a contract extension before the Philadelphia Phillies start their season.
The most successful manager in franchise history is entering the final year of a deal he signed after leading the Phillies to the first of four straight division titles in 2007. He's making $2.4 million this season and could be seeking a two-year extension worth about $4 million per year.
"I think once the season starts, I don't want to talk about my contract," Manuel said Monday after pitchers and catchers held their first workout of spring training.
In his first six seasons, Manuel has led the Phillies to one World Series championship and two pennants to go with four NL East titles. His 25 postseason wins are more than any other manager over the last five years.
"Hopefully something happens in spring training, and if not, my extension and contract, I definitely don't want it to be a distraction for our team," Manuel said. "I definitely put my team first. The players, and how we play, that's how I get a contract. That's the whole purpose of me doing what I do, and that's how I look at it."
General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., is hopeful the two sides will reach an agreement soon.
"I'm not going to characterize it, but obviously we want to get it done and have Charlie in our uniform," he said. "We've been working at this thing since December. So, we're hopeful we'll be able to get something done soon."
The team won't talk about the negotiations.
"It's not the first time in the world a manager goes into a season without a contract extension," Amaro said. "There are a lot of those out there. I'd like to be able to put it to bed, but we'll see."
Manuel wasn't a popular choice when former general manager Ed Wade hired him to replace Larry Bowa after the 2004 season. Most fans wanted Jim Leyland, who was available at the time. The media criticized the move, and Manuel was scrutinized intensely. Some of the jabs were personal, too. People made fun of Manuel's folksy personality and his accent – a thick Appalachian drawl.
But now Manuel is beloved in Philadelphia. Fans regularly chant his name when he goes out to argue with umpires, and he has his own radio and television shows.
"Every now and then, you might think something, but at the same time, you stay focused on where you're going," Manuel said. "You stay busy and if you do your job right, things will work out."