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 PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Win or lose, Charlie Manuel never wavers, stays positive and always encourages his team.
No wonder the 63-year-old manager has the same answer every time a reporter asks about his future with the Philadelphia Phillies.
``I'm not worried about it,'' Manuel said again Monday, before the Phillies began a crucial four-game series against the New York Mets. ``I just want to win tonight.''
Philadelphia was six games behind the NL East-leading Mets and trailed San Diego by three games in the wild-card race.
Manuel is in the final season of a three-year contract he signed after Larry Bowa was fired in 2004. He's kept the Phillies in the playoff race despite a rash of injuries this season, and is being mentioned as a legitimate candidate for the NL Manager of the Year award.
Yet, Manuel has endured constant criticism from fans and media since taking the job. He learned to ignore it a long time ago, focusing instead on trying to get the Phillies into the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
``It doesn't bother me,'' he said.
Manuel guided the Phillies to 88 wins in 2005 and they finished one game behind Houston Astros for a wild-card berth. Last season, Manuel kept the team together following a midseason roster purge and they stayed in the playoff hunt until the next-to-last day of the season.
But this year certainly has been Manuel's best managing job. The Phillies have overcome numerous injuries to key players to remain in contention. Overall, just nine of the 25 players on the opening-day roster haven't been on the disabled list.
Reigning NL MVP Ryan Howard, All-Star second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Shane Victorino are among the regulars who've spent time on the DL.
And, the pitching staff has been decimated by injuries. So far, the Phillies have used 27 pitchers. One more will break the club record.
Of the original starting rotation, only 44-year-old Jamie Moyer currently remains. All-Star Cole Hamels (elbow), Adam Eaton (shoulder), Freddy Garcia (shoulder) and Jon Lieber (foot) are on the disabled list. Brett Myers, the opening-day starter, is the closer.
Eaton is scheduled to start against the Mets on Tuesday and Hamels should return by next week.
Many player credit Manuel's approach. He doesn't get too excited when they're winning or flip out during a losing streak.
``He stays even keel,'' Myers said.

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