Mackanin optimistic, open-minded about 2016

Mackanin optimistic, open-minded about 2016

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It has been one heck of a spring for Phillies manager Pete Mackanin.

He opened big league camp in February for the first time as a full-time manager after managing the Pirates in 2005, the Reds in 2007 and the Phillies in 2015 on an interim basis. He hammered home the importance of fundamentals and playing with energy.

His boss, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, noticed his efforts and how his players responded to his words, too. Klentak tore up Mackain's one-year contract this month and replaced it with a two-year contract with a club option for 2018.

Mackanin begins his first full season as manager Monday on Opening Day in Cincinnati.

"It's already hit me," he said before Wednesday afternoon's 8-4 win over the Astros at Bright House Field. "I keep telling my wife, it's not that big of a deal. I've managed quite a few games in the big leagues. Managing is the same everywhere you go. It's getting through Spring Training, and doing the things I wanted to do and focusing on certain fundamentals, that is one thing that is the most important part of it, rather than during the season. I'm a manager, and I'm just managing."

30 in 30: Pete Mackanin

The Phillies finished their Grapefruit League schedule at 15-10-3. It does not translate into regular-season success, but Mackanin thinks he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish this spring. He thinks there are reasons to be optimistic about 2016.

"I think with our rotation, and the bullpen we're going to have, excluding the closer right now, I think we're going to be in a lot more games than we were last year," Mackanin said. "I think that's going to lead to more wins. How many remains to be seen."

Ten Phillies pitchers not named Cole Hamels, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and Adam Morgan posted a combined 6.19 ERA in 106 starts (65.4 percent of their games) last season. The Phillies also had a 34-37 record following the All-Star break with Maikel Franco, who could be their best hitter, missing 46 of those games.

But while nobody is expecting the Phillies to contend this season, they expect to be better. They do not expect to finish with the worst record in baseball for the second consecutive season.

It should be interesting to follow, because of the young players on the current roster and the prospects coming up through the system. Their Opening Day roster could look very different from their mid-August roster.

"I was really happy to see all of those young guys I had heard about but hadn't seen," Mackanin said. "And they really looked like they've got a chance to be real good players.

"My focus right now is on the guys we have on the Major League level. And I really don't want to discount those guys, their turn will come. But I'm hoping we're not going to have to take a chance on bringing them up early, because the guys we have at the big league level are doing so well that there's going to be no rush."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for 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.