Notes: Manuel calls team meeting

Notes: Manuel calls team meeting

PHILADELPHIA -- Manager Charlie Manuel has expressed disappointment more than once during his team's 3-8 stretch, especially since it let the air out of the 12-1 homestand that preceded it.

After being outscored, 15-1, in the first two games against the Red Sox, and playing a sloppy defensive game on Saturday, Manuel felt the need to call a team meeting.

The purpose of Sunday's meeting was not to scold, but to encourage and remind the players that they have to play better.

"I made up my mind after [Saturday's] game," Manuel said. "We have 14 games until the All-Star break, let's finish strong. We've been making mistakes lately. We have to play the right way for all 27 outs. It's time to get after it."

Manuel said he was the only one who spoke during the 20-minute sesson.

"I just want them to play happy and relaxed and with determination," Manuel said. "Those are things I've believed my whole baseball career. It's important to remind them and keep them focused on what we want to accomplish."

Manuel said there was no chewing out, and he didn't make a big deal about anything. He's just not seeing what generated wins earlier this month.

Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu and Jimmy Rollins are slumping, and Jim Thome is continuing to struggle. Save for Vicente Padilla, the starting pitching has been solid, and the bullpen's been good.

Manuel said he's not much for meetings, and generally calls two or three a season. He's reached that point already, so he hopes not to have any more.

"Our guys have potential," Manuel said. "If I could say one thing, I would say, 'Be focused, stay relaxed and give yourself a chance to be as good as you think you can be.'"

Of course, that's three things.

"They would be very surprised at themselves," Manuel said. "They try too hard and at times they get down. If you don't pitch or hit, it's very easy to get down in this game. The more they enjoy it and love it and stay after it, the more they'll improve.

"I believe in them. I pull for them. I want us to win. By win, I mean our division and go to the World Series."

Padilla still a go: Padilla will make his next start Saturday against the Padres.

Manuel didn't want to address the question regarding Padilla's long-term status in the rotation, considering his season-long struggles. Manuel's first priority is to get Padilla straightened out.

"I'm for Padilla," Manuel said. "I'm not looking to cut or punish him. I'm looking to get Padilla pitching like he showed us he can. The biggest thing is to encourage."

Padilla has been anything but encouraging, as he endures his worst season. He's told teammates that his back and neck are sore, and that affects his throwing motion. As a result, his pitches don't have their usual sink.

For now, Padilla is the guy, but Amaury Telemaco, Geoff Geary, Ryan Madson might loom as alternatives is Padilla can't get it turned around.

"I'm concerned about any pitcher that doesn't take us deep in to games," Manuel said. "I want him to pitch good." Hopefully, he'll get outs. I'm sure it is a confidence thing."

Philling in: Kenny Lofton could've played Sunday, but didn't start against lefty David Wells. ... Tim Worrell made his third rehab appearance with Class A Lakewood, allowing one hit in two innings and striking out three.

Coming up: It took three starts, but Robinson Tejeda (1-0, 2.03) finally gave up a run -- to the Mets on June 22. Still, the rookie has been impressive since joining the rotation, providing a viable replacement for the injured Randy Wolf.

On Tuesday, Tejeda will face the Mets again in the opener of a three-game series at Shea Stadium.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.