Manuel, 75, back in Phils' dugout as hitting coach

The Philadelphia Phillies have hired former manager Charlie Manuel as the team's new hitting coach after relieving John Mallee of his duties, the team announced Tuesday.

Manuel, 75, last managed the Phillies in 2013. He is the franchise's winningest manager with a 780-636 mark, leading the team to a 2008 World Series championship and five straight division titles.

"The reason we did this today is because we have 44 more game remaining and we're two games out of the playoffs," general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday. "I know a lot of people are burying us, saying we have no chance and we haven't played well.

"Part of that is correct. We have not played well. We have not hit well, especially since the All-Star break. But we are not buried and we are not out. It makes sense to try something different rather than continuing to do the same thing."

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies rank last in the National League in batting average (.240), RBIs (109) and extra-base hits (82), and the team's .705 OPS ranks ahead of only the Marlins during that span.

Overall, the Phillies are 19th in runs, 24th in batting average (.245) and 23rd in home runs (149) this season.

"I thought he was great," Bryce Harper said of Mallee. "He prepared every single day and came in each day and made us as prepared as possible. Part of it definitely falls on us. I guess the organization felt that this was the best thing for us. I support that."

Klentak said the move wasn't about "changing the message, just the messenger," adding that Manuel's role as hitting coach would just be for the rest of this season.

"We are very fortunate to have Charlie Manual here, who's willing to step in," Klentak said.

The team's offense has underperformed despite the addition of Harper, All-Star J.T. Realmuto, two-time All-Star Jean Segura and former 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in June.

Manuel will assume his new role immediately, the team said. He has previously twice served as a hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians, with whom he also was manager from 2000 to 2002.

After he was fired by the Phillies, Manuel was brought back into the fold as a senior adviser to then-general manager Ruben Amaro in 2014.

"I don't think anyone in baseball or in this world loves hitting more than Charlie," Harper said. "That's a guy that always has fun and enjoys the game. Things will be very simple with his message and what he wants us to do."

The Phillies are just two games back in the National League wild-card race. They trail the Atlanta Braves by nine games in the NL East standings through Monday.

ESPN's Jesse Rogers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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