ATLANTA -- Outfielder Jayson Werth was saddened to learn about Charlie Manuel's dismissal as manager of the Phillies. Under Manuel, Werth became an everyday right fielder who helped the Phillies win two pennants and one World Series title before joining the Nationals.
Even more importantly, Werth credits Manuel for being the player he is today.
"He is the best manager I ever played for. Nothing against Davey [Johnson]," Werth said. "I owe [Manuel a lot]. … It took a lot to win him over. Once he put me in there, he believed in me as much -- if not more than -- anybody that I've ever played for. … He is the one that pushed me to be the player that I became. Between him and those guys I played with over there, it kind of goes hand in hand."
When he arrived in Philadelphia, Werth was coming off a bad hand injury that he suffered in 2005. He was a reserve with the Phillies until June 2008. After numerous conversations with Manuel about playing every day -- the dialogue lasted more than a year -- Werth was given the right-field job and he took advantage of the situation. His best season under Manuel was in '09, when he hit 36 home runs and drove in 99 runs, both career highs.
"He said, 'I'm going to give you your chance. This is your last chance. If you don't hit righties, this is it,'" Werth said. "I always disagreed with him. [I told him], 'The righties that you are giving me are guys in the eighth or ninth inning. It's really not fair.' It didn't change his mind.
"We went to Oakland, I finally went in there. [Geoff Jenkins] wasn't having the year that he has had in the past. … I went in there and hashed it out a little bit and he was going to give me an opportunity. … I guess I started hitting righties and things worked out.
"I was OK with Charlie. That's how he is. If you perform for him, he is going to like you. That's how this business is. It's a cutthroat business as you can tell."
Werth talked to Manuel in May and Manuel plans to manage next season.
"He guaranteed me that he would manage somewhere next year, so we'll see," Werth said.
With Johnson retiring after the season, Werth said he wouldn't mind playing for Manuel next season in Washington.
"I don't know if he fits into the organization's plans, but I love playing for him," he said.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashinNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.