In Manuel Phillies' hitters still trust

In Manuel Phillies' hitters still trust

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Nobody credits Charlie Manuel more for his hitting success than Jim Thome.

Thome not only credits Manuel with improving his swing, but helping him believe he could be a successful hitter in the big leagues. Manuel made Thome feel good about himself, and Thome carried that confidence to the plate.

Perhaps Manuel can help Ryan Howard, whose production has been slipping for several seasons. The pair is working together this spring.

Manuel was reluctant to talk about Howard because he is sensitive to the fact he is a guest instructor and not the manager or hitting coach, but he said he hopes to help.

"I do that with everybody," Manuel said. "I always talk about the positives. I always tell guys they can hit. Every one of these guys need it. Ryan has known me for a long time. I think he feels very comfortable around me. That's good."

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