Is it too early for a good talking to? Not in the opinion of Charlie Manuel, who is quoted in today's Inquirer as saying too many players are too loose too early and he isn't happy about it. Charlie knows this team's sorry April history during his tenure at the helm and he appears determined to avoid another slow start. So, he's going to have a talk with a number of players with two weeks of practice remaining and let them know he isn't happy. Maybe he should take a page from the great Earl Weaver's book.
In the late 60's and early '70's Mike Cuellar, a crafty Cuban lefty with a mean screwball, arrived in Baltimore via a trade with Houston and became one of the stalwarts of the great Orioles' starting rotations of that era that included Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Pat Dobson. Cuellar, being used to more tropical climes, had trouble adjusting to the cool temperatures of the Mid-Atlantic in late March and all of April. (By August, Baltimore does a pretty good imitation of the tropics.) Heck, if truth be told, Cuellar had trouble getting loose even in mid-Summer. He would struggle in the first inning or so of work before settling down nicely. As a consequence, Weaver and his pitching coach George Bamberger decided to have Cuellar warm up earlier and longer than usual, hoping he would leave his first bad inning in the bullpen instead of on the mound where it counted. It seemed to work.
The moral to our tale? Maybe the Phils' pitchers and catchers should report in January and the rest of the squad in early February. That way they can leave their rotten Aprils in Florida...in March.