Diet Puts Charlie Back in the “Swing” of Things

Part 1: Manuel's weight loss inspires him to challenge J-Roll in batting practice

Batting practice pitchers beware, a once great slugger plans on re-entering the batter’s box this season after a decade away -- and no, it’s not Mark McGwire.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is “ready to show Jimmy Rollins I can hit.”

Why the sudden desire of the Phillies skipper to take some swings again after 10 years?

Weight loss, said Manuel from his off-season Florida home. The type-2 diabetic, credits his new found Nutrisystem diet and exercise for his renewed vigor.

Manuel is in better shape as is evident by the 55 or so pounds he has shed since last off-season.

The 66-year-old liked the Nutrisystem program so much he even became a spokesman for the Horsham, Pa.-based company.

Weighing in now at a slimmer 230 pounds Manuel feels like he can do things that he hasn’t done for the last decade or so, including taking some swings in the batting cage.

So can Charlie (once a feared slugger in Japan) still hit one out of the park?

“Of course I can still get a hold of it,” he said. That’s good news for fans showing up for Phillies batting practice this year.

But, the Phils skipper also looks forward to serving up some long balls.

“I like throwing batting practice,” Charlie said. But, before he would get tired and have to stop soon after starting.

“I can now be more active on the field…I should have more time to communicate with my players.”

So will that increased activity lead to another World Series appearance?

You are going to have to check back throughout the week to find out the answer to that and more, such as: how Charlie’s spent his off-season; what it really took to shed the pounds; and what he thinks of his new celebrity as a weight-loss spokesman.

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