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Phils view players-only meeting as 'positive'

Phils view players-only meeting as 'positive'

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BOSTON -- The tiny visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park is a cramped space when players, coaches, athletic trainers, clubhouse attendants and reporters are inside.

But for roughly 30 minutes early Saturday afternoon, the room opened wide as the Phillies held a players-only meeting in the batting cages just around the corner.

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"There's no panic here," center fielder Shane Victorino said following a 10-2 loss to the Red Sox. "But, yeah, how long is this going to go? It's what we need to figure out and put a stop to.

"Do we have the answer? No. We went out there. We lost. But to get on the same page I think is what we need to do. At least we're trying to do something to get everybody collectively working together. We show up every day to the park. We want to win. It's not about going out there and losing. Fans are getting frustrated. You're getting frustrated. We're getting frustrated. I hate to use the cliché, but it is early."

But the poor play has lasted nearly four weeks. The Phils might have reached their tipping point following Friday's 12-2 loss to the Red Sox. It was their worst defeat in almost a year, coming in the midst of a slump in which they have lost 16 of their past 23 games.

"I have no problem with that," manager Charlie Manuel said of the players-only meeting. "In the last week, I've probably talked to one or two players a day. I've talked about how things are going and how we're playing. I think sometimes it's better if they get by themselves. I think they need to sit down and talk it over."

So players gathered in the batting cages and talked. If a player had something to say, he spoke.

One veteran player said it reminded him of a team meeting in Cincinnati in 2007, when Manuel, coaches and players gathered and shared their thoughts. He said the '10 version was necessary and productive, and should not be judged a success or failure by Saturday's score.

"It's coming from us," the player said, asked why a players-only meeting might have an impact. "When you have a coach or manager, there's a different tone. He's the boss. He's the manager. He's dictating how he feels, what he feels and what should be done. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. When players get together, we're able to share more things, how we feel personally."

Although no player divulged details of the meeting, they said the message was positive and the team remains united.

"Confidence," a player said, regarding the tone of the meeting.

"This isn't the style of baseball that we're accustomed to playing," he added. "This isn't the style of baseball we practice and we preach. I think that was the message, and it came through loud and clear."

"Everybody came out positive," right-hander Joe Blanton said. "Hopefully this is a stretch that we'll look back on in September, October, whatever it is, and look back and call it a character-building stretch. That's where we're hoping we can go with this now."

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