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Shane Victorino and Charlie Manuel aren’t seeing eye-to-eye

Jan 20, 2011, 8:41 AM EDT

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There’s a story in today’s Philadelphia Daily News about Shane Victorino and how he might bounce back from a relatively down 2010.  Charlie Manuel thinks its a matter of focus:

“First of all, I think he got a little bit more home-run happy. That might have had something to do with it. But also, I think it might have been the fact that we’ve been successful. We’ve won games and went to a couple World Series. It might be a relaxation thing or something like that.

“He just didn’t stay focused as much as he usually does. We talk about consistency. Every time we have a meeting, [we say] the game is about staying focused. They say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with us and we’ll win tomorrow. We’ll get ‘em a couple days from now or next week or whatever.’ I think, sometimes, when you get secure, you get relaxed. It’s not like you mean to do that. It’s just kind of human nature. And all of a sudden you’ve got to be woken up to how you’re supposed to play.

It’s hard. You’ve heard me say we’re getting too complacent or we’re getting relaxed, this and that. But you go tell somebody that and he acts like he don’t see that. Being around as long as I have, in a way, I kind of understand that. But, at the same time, you have to back up and take inventory of yourself and be honest with yourself.”

Except Victorino doesn’t seem to want to buy into it:

“People try to use that as an answer. Why did guys struggle? Oh, because they’re comfortable. Charlie used that word complacent. I don’t know. My definition of complacent may be different than Charlie’s. Our team, I don’t think, ever gets complacent. It’s not us. It’s not our nature. It’s not the way we are,” he said.

“I absolutely understand why people would say that. But you look in our clubhouse. There’s no way our demeanor has changed. Our hunger is just the same. We ended up with 97 wins, the best record in baseball. In our defense, there’s no way you can say our team let up because of multiyear deals or because of big contracts. There are a lot of expectations and a lot of hunger. There are a lot of guys who want to turn things around and show people they’re still on the map from the offensive side.”

Interesting. Victorino goes on to talk about his down year being a matter of mechanics. Manuel, the former hitting coach, thinks it’s focus.  One would think that Manuel would go with mechanics too rather than imply that Victorino wasn’t mentally prepared.  But he didn’t. Why might he not?

Is the bad mechanics explanation simply not plausible? Maybe, and given that Manuel is not one who engages in b.s., perhaps he’s not willing to give a nod to an excuse. But if Victorino’s problem truly was one of focus, was it something Manuel missed as it was happening or something that was pointed out yet went unheeded by Victorino at the time?

Just a strange situation all around. While Phillies fans may have a better recollection on this than me, I can’t recall Manuel ever calling out a player, even mildly like this. Which leads me to believe that, in this case, he considers it a serious matter.

What’s goin’ on?

  1. Joe - Jan 20, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    “What’s going on?” indeed. 500+ words and not one of them is “Hawaii(an).”

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 20, 2011 at 10:53 AM

      Just another passive aggressive way of Craig trying to rile up the Phightins Phanbase.

      • xmatt0926x - Jan 20, 2011 at 2:39 PM

        Your on to something… The evil Iowan is at it again. Just pure evil……

  2. Brian - Jan 20, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Uncle Cholly really doesn’t call out his players in the media, so you’re right, it’s odd. I wonder if he’s just trying to light a fire under Victorino…I do get the vibe that Shane’s getting a little inflated. But Charlie’s a superb player’s manager, so I trust how he’s going to handle the problem.

  3. Jonny 5 - Jan 20, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    He has called out guys before. He called out Jimmy Rollins and benched his butt for “lack of hustle” One of those shoulda been outs but an error gave a chance for Jimmy to get on base, but since he didn’t try hustling to first like he should always do, he was out anyway. He was benched and came back better than ever. Shane Victorino, who happens to be Hawaiian had an exact situation last season, and wasn’t benched. But yeah, I agree with Charlie on this because complacency, even a small amount could lead to guys pulling off early on the way to first. Shane did come back and say it would never happen again. I also think sometimes Shane does come up to bat trying to hit it out of the park, making him SO more often than he should. Shane could be one of the best contact guys in the NL if he did focus on being a contact guy. Face it Shane, you aren’t big bopper mat’l, Make contact, get on base, and let your legs do the magic. When he’s on base it shakes up most pitchers, he’s really that fast, and he reads the pitcher well. Charlie has become complacent in ways too. It’s the NL Charlie, let’s steal some bases.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:15 AM

      Ryno was complacent enough to watch that pitch. To paraphrase Mufasa, the Phightins need to shake it off and claim their rightful place in the circle of life. (How’s that, Craig?)

      While I agree that Shane “The Levitating Guy From the 50th State” Victorino—and a few others, mind you—did exhibit signs of complacency, they did finish with the best record in the majors, after a historic slump. Hell, they were shut out for what, a month straight? (Might be a slight exaggeration.) But I also have a slight problem with Cholly calling him out in the press—if you can call the Daily News “press” per se. Keep it in the clubhouse, Chuck. Leave it on the field, Shane the Hawaiian.

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 20, 2011 at 5:50 PM

        Honestly, it bugs me, but just a little.

  4. schmedley69 - Jan 20, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    I remember they had a similar spat in Spring Training a few years ago. This is nothing new. Shane is a space cadet. Sometimes he’s just not there mentally. Swinging at the first pitch when a pitcher is struggling with control; getting thrown out stealing in crucial situations, etc. He can be a real bonehead sometimes.

  5. Mark - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:07 AM

    Maybe it’s me but it seems like a lot to get worked up about for a guy who was just slightly less productive offensively than he was in past years. He was right around his career marks, and what, .015 wOBA lower than he was last year? His walk rate was good, his K rate about the same, the power went up. He stole 34 bases and was extremely efficient when doing so.

    I’m on the outside looking in, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. Heck, going by WAR he was better in 2010 then he was in 09.

  6. seanmk - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:48 AM

    this stems from as a switch hitter he was noticable better hitter from the right side compared to the left. small sample but in 412 AB from the left he hit .233/.305/.376 and in 175 from the right he his .320/.380/.554. Rollins actually had a simliar split hitting .297 from the right and .218 from the left. as righties they crushed left handed pitching, just hitting as left handers they were bad. would agree with shane it was mechanics

  7. spudchukar - Jan 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    It is human nature I guess, the need to find causation for every problem. But identifying Victorino’s production downturn as complacency lacks imagination. The rationale is tiresome. Every player fluctuates, to some degree. Consistency is a wonderful quality, but it is unreasonable to expect levels of excellence to be maintained, without some variation. Whatever the reasons or lack thereof, let us please not go down the “Hawaiian”, avenue. Our President has had his ups and downs, too, and with all of his critics, both justified and not, “Island Mentality”, hasn’t surfaced, so leave that alone.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 20, 2011 at 1:48 PM

      Um…who said anything about politics here? As far as I can tell, you are the first to go that route.

      • spudchukar - Jan 20, 2011 at 4:55 PM

        I wasn’t talking “politics” either.

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 20, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        So, the whole part where you bring up Hawaii, “Our President” and his critics doesn’t exist? I could have sworn that was in your comment…hmm.

  8. thefalcon123 - Jan 20, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    Shane Victorino BABIP the past four years: .317, .302, .314, .315
    BABIP for 2010: .273

    Odds are, his down year was just a case of being unlucky. Extra base hits, walks, K’s were all roughly the same. Seems like Charlie is calling him out for bad luck.

  9. BC - Jan 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Of course they don’t see eye to eye. Victorino is much taller.

  10. xmatt0926x - Jan 20, 2011 at 2:37 PM

    I love Victorino’s game in center but who says he was ever such a great offensive player to begin with where he couldnt have a down year or two. At best he’s a .280 or so singles hitter with a little pop in CBP. Its good enough for me but it’s not like he was some offensive monster who had a Prince Fielder kind of dropoff last year. Just like Craig said, the national guys don’t see Shane on a daily basis and see his miscues on the basepaths and his lapses of judgement that seem to occur on a somewhat frequent basis. Werth was the same way. I just think that kind of stuff easily leads to the impression of a lack of focus. In Shane’s defense, his speed in center and his great arm likely save more runs that his loose play costs them.

    • macjacmccoy - Jan 21, 2011 at 4:33 PM

      you also gotta take into account his move in the lineup. He went from batting inbetween Rollins and Utley to hitting between Ibanez and Ruiz or Ibanez n Werth at the bottom of a lineup. That can effect a guys stealing and hitting. Victorino never seemed to like moving down the lineup which was pretty obvious when his game picked up when he replaced Rollins in the lead off spot. Charly has to take some responsibility for Victorino’s drop off in production bc it was his choice to bat him so far down in the lineup.

  11. rolltidenj - Jan 20, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Craig, Manuel called out Jason Werth on several occasions last season.

  12. macjacmccoy - Jan 21, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    I dunno Charle calls people out when he has to. Multiple times he has called out Rollins for not running a play out or something like that and benched him. The same with Werth.

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