(Reuters) - Charlie Manuel, who led the Philadelphia Phillies to the 2008 World Series championship during a triumphant run of five division titles, was sacked as manager of the slumping Major League Baseball team on Friday.
Manuel, who won his 1,000th career game as a big league manager in Atlanta on Monday in what has proved to be a dismal season for the Phillies since the All-Star break, will be replaced on an interim basis by third-base coach Ryne Sandberg.
“I did not resign and I did not quit,” Manuel, 69, told a news conference at Citizens Bank Park. “I think it was an agreement.
“I think sometimes people forget how much I love to win. I think that goes unnoticed. I think sometimes I don’t talk about it because I push it to my team and how important it is. Every day, I say our No. 1 priority is to win the game.
“When we get away from that, we get into trouble. I love everything about managing ... the last couple years to fall back, I get upset very much so. I want us to stay where we were at, I want to compete for a World Series every year.”
Manuel was in the final year of his contract but his departure was hastened as the slumping Phillies lost 19 of their last 23 games, slipping to fourth place in the National League (NL) East, 20 1/2 games behind the pacesetting Atlanta Braves.
“It came down to a few things,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who became tearful after announcing Manuel’s premature exit. “One, I wanted to make sure that if the decision was made Charlie would not be back, he should know.
“I didn’t see any reason we should drag it out and let him sit for the next 40 games knowing he wouldn’t be manager beyond this season. I didn’t think that was fair to him.
“Additionally, it gives a chance to see what we have in Ryne Sandberg and how he can handle managing the Philadelphia Phillies.”
The Phillies went 780-636 under Manuel, who won more games than any other manager for the franchise. The club won five consecutive NL East division titles from 2007-2011, two NL pennants and the 2008 World Series championship.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Ed Osmond