Mackanin to players: 'Don't just play this out'

Mackanin to players: 'Don't just play this out'

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin's job has not been easy since he replaced Ryne Sandberg in June.

Mackanin took a team on pace to lose 105 games, with a roster short in every department, and entered play Saturday having posted a relatively impressive 25-26 record since the All-Star break. That performance is one reason why he is expected to return next season, even as the Phillies set out to hire a new general manager this coming offseason.

But following a sweep of the Marlins in Miami late last month, the Phillies were just 4-14, which is why Mackanin called a "positive" team meeting before Saturday night's game against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park.

"Keep them pointed in the right direction, under the circumstances," Mackanin said.

Phillies pitchers posted a 6.37 ERA in that 18-game stretch, which was the third-highest mark in baseball. The offense averaged just 4.22 runs per game, which was tied for 21st.

"I just wanted them to hear from me that I still like everybody," Mackanin said. "I just reminded them to continue competing through the end of the season and not just play it out."

Following a doubleheader sweep Friday night, Mackanin was asked if his team might be out of gas. He said no, but he does need to keep his players focused.

"Personally, I've been pleased with the way guys have been going about it," Mackanin said. "The meeting I had today was a pleasant reminder: Don't just play this out. There's things still out there. There's potential for jobs down the road for everyone. Everyone has been given chances to play, and we just want to make sure. I just reminded them that we're not going to just go through the season with no intentions. We're going to try to compete every day. That's what it's all about, competing every day, every pitch."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.