SAN FRANCISCO – The hard decision really wasn’t that hard for Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Despite days of public coyness, he appears to have made it a while ago and correctly has not wavered. Starting Joe Blanton in Game 4 of this teetering National League Championship Series makes sense. Throwing your entire starting staff out of whack in order to get Roy Halladay on the field tonight on 3 days’ rest does not make sense.
That really was the easy one, though. Knowing Manuel, the question of his starting lineup is likely to be the one that kept him awake last night.
Manuel is not a change-for-the-sake-of-change kind of manager. It is not what he does. He is all about using proven people in predictable situations. He is all about loyalty, and projecting an image of calm amid the crosscurrents.
That image matters, within his clubhouse especially. The last thing Manuel wants to do is appear to be panicking. But after yesterday’s 3-0 loss to the Giants, his team is hitting .194 in a series that it now trails by two games to one. The decision the manager has to make is whether or not to shake up his lineup just for the sake of the shaking.
Asked if he ever does that, Manuel said, “Just to make [a change] just to see if it’s any different? Yeah, sometimes.”
But will he?