Seeing Charlie Manuel at spring training brings all the feels for Phillies players and fans

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a health scare this past September when he suffered a stroke during a medical procedure. The 80-year-old skipper of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies has been on the mend ever since, and this week, was a welcome site at the team's spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida.

Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer spoke with catcher J.T. Realmuto about the importance of having the beloved Manuel back in camp.

“Seeing him in the cage this morning brightened my day,” said Realmuto, per Coffey. “It’s his favorite place in the world to be. He and [Larry] Bowa are here for a reason. They’re still knowledgeable. They can still help us. It means the world to have them around.”

According to Coffey, Manuel has come a long way in just a short time. Earlier in January, at the Phillies' annual Phantasy Camp, the former manager still wasn't interacting much and was pushed by Bowa and Realmuto to show up at spring training.

“At Phantasy Camp I saw that he was a little down,” added Realmuto per Coffey, “and that he didn’t have much confidence in his speech. He still wasn’t feeling himself. I just told him we’d love to see him in spring training. And that we can’t wait until he gets here.”

Manager Rob Thomson also spoke about having Manuel at camp and the players' reaction.

"It is [good to have him here]. He's fought like hell to get here, you know," Thomson told media on Friday. "Just tells you how tough of a man he is, and it's great to see him. I introduced him and the guys gave him a big ovation. It was really nice."

Charlie Manuel built a winning culture as Phillies manager

Prior to being named manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005, Manuel spent three years as the skipper of the Cleveland Guardians. During seven of his nine seasons at the helm in Philadelphia, Manuel's teams posted records over .500 and averaged 80-plus wins per season, culminating in a career record of 780 wins and 636 losses (.551 winning percentage).

The unquestioned highlight of Manuel's time as Phillies manager came in 2008 when he led the Phillies to a World Series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays — the franchise's first championship since 1980. The following year, the Phillies won the National League pennant and made it back to the World Series, but fell short of repeating as champions in a six-game series against the New York Yankees.

In 2011, his Phillies team won 102 games (the most in his nine-year tenure) but ultimately lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in a five-game NLDS. Two seasons later, as age and injuries took their toll on the Phillies' veteran core, Manuel was fired on Aug. 16, 2013, after the team under-performed with a 53-67 record. He ranks as the greatest Phillies manager in the history of the franchise.

Charlie Manuel has remained an ambassador to the Phillies since he stepped out of the dugout. Having Manuel back in his familiar place behind the batting cage at spring training has been a welcome sight for players and Phillies fans alike.