Manuel to get job over Leyland, Fregosi

PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel will be the next manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, replacing the fired Larry Bowa, according to reports Wednesday night.

Manuel will be introduced at a news conference Thursday or Friday, one official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity. Two other sources also said Manuel was the team's choice.

The 60-year-old Manuel managed the Cleveland Indians from 2000-02. He takes over a talented but underachieving club that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1993.

Phillies general manager Ed Wade didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday night.

Manuel spent the last two seasons working as a special assistant to Wade. He was the second of eight candidates interviewed by the Phillies after Bowa was fired with two games remaining in a disappointing season in which the Phillies finished 10 games behind
first-place Atlanta in the NL East.

Manuel, Jim Leyland and Jim Fregosi were the three finalists for the job, according to one of the sources. Fregosi managed the Phillies to the NL pennant 11 years ago. Leyland led Florida to its first World Series championship and guided Pittsburgh to three
division titles in the 1990s.

Manuel had a 220-190 record with the Indians and led them to the AL Central championship in 2001 but was fired after a 39-47 start in 2002.

Known as a player's manager, Manuel is close with Phillies first baseman Jim Thome, who thrived in Cleveland when Manuel was the Indians' hitting coach.

Manuel's affable personality and folksy nature make him the anti-Bowa. Though he was popular among fans in Philadelphia, Bowa wasn't well-liked by some of his players because of his fiery demeanor.

Manuel also beat out former major-league managers Grady Little, Don Baylor and Buddy Bell, Braves hitting coach Terry Pendleton and Pirates third-base coach John Russell.

Leyland was clearly the people's choice among fans who are starved for a winner. Bowa, a shortstop on Philadelphia's 1980 World Series championship team, led the Phillies to a winning record three times in his four seasons, but they never finished closer than two games behind in the NL East.

Manuel was an outfielder who spent parts of seven seasons in the majors with Minnesota and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He hit .198 with four homers in 242 games.