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Manuel has faith in Phillies' offseason moves

Manuel has faith in Phillies' offseason moves

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Manuel has faith in Phillies' offseason moves
PHILADELPHIA -- Charlie Manuel hopped out of the fire truck, closed the door behind him and meandered to the Christmas tree and menorah in front of Citizens Bank Park on Saturday evening.

The Phillie Phanatic, dressed head to toe in Santa Claus gear, followed.

Both helped ceremoniously light the tree and menorah in front of fans as part of the organization's Holiday Week of Giving, which includes a blood drive and holiday sale Sunday at the ballpark. But the Phillies hope next week is just as busy, with a few introductory news conferences. Sources confirmed Saturday they had agreed to terms on a two-year, $12 million contract with right-hander Mike Adams, who will be their setup man, and a one-year, $2.5 million contract with left-hander John Lannan, who will be their fifth starter.

The Phils also have been pursuing outfielder Cody Ross for some time, and FOX Sports reported Saturday those efforts have intensified.

"I better not say a whole lot about it, but at the same time I know [general manager] Ruben [Amaro Jr.] is really working hard and trying to improve our ballclub, and anything that goes down I think will help us," Manuel said.

Manuel could not say much about Adams or Lannan, because both deals are pending physicals.

But Adams, who has a vesting option for a third year, should help the bullpen. Phillies relievers blew 13 eighth-inning leads last season. Considering they finished seven games behind the Cardinals for the National League Wild Card, a marked improvement is a must.

Adams went 5-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 61 appearances last season with the Rangers. In eight seasons with the Brewers, Padres and Rangers, he is 18-15 with a 2.28 ERA in 358 appearances. He has a 1.98 ERA over the past five seasons, which is third lowest of any reliever in baseball with at least 153 innings pitched.

Adams had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome, but MLB.com reported in October that he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

"When I saw him in San Diego a few years ago, he was definitely a back-end-of-the-bullpen pitcher," Manuel said. "He had a good fastball, but a tremendous slider, good command, things like that. If we have him, he's definitely going to help us."

Lannan, 28, should be the team's fifth starter. He is 42-52 with a 4.01 ERA in 134 starts in his career, which he has spent entirely with the Nationals. Lannan has a 6.49 ERA in eight career starts in Philadelphia, but the Phillies are hopeful it is more the team than the ballpark. Lannan is 3-13 with a 5.53 ERA in his career against the Phils, but 39-39 with a 3.80 ERA against everybody else.

The Phillies happily would take a 3.80 ERA from their fifth starter.

Ross, 31, could be the final piece for the Philadelphia. He hit .267 with 22 home runs, 81 RBIs and an .807 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) last season with the Red Sox. He has a career .783 OPS, but he hits right-handed, has some power and can play every position in the outfield.

A veteran presence from the right side of the plate and an ability to move around in the outfield could come in handy for the Phils, who crave both things.

"I don't know exactly where that's at," Manuel said. "I've been saying all along, I think any way the Phillies can help our club, they'll do it."

But asked generally how he likes the way his team is coming together, Manuel said, "I like how our team sets up. I was really excited about [Chase] Utley. He sent me an e-mail yesterday. He said, 'With any luck at all, you'll have a healthy second baseman.' That kind of encouraged me. I've been ready to go to Spring Training for about a month now. The sooner the better."

Michael Young and Ben Revere will be joining him. So could Adams and Lannan and maybe Ross.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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