CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Maybe this doesn't register on the Albert Pujols Contract Richter Scale, but there was one small ripple of curiosity as the Phillies took their Dream Rotation onto the field for the first time Monday.
"Hopefully something happens in spring training," Manuel said after the Phillies' first workout for pitchers and catchers Monday. "My extension, the contract, I don't want it to be a distraction for my team.
"I think, once the season starts, I don't want to talk about my contract."
When someone asked whether that means Manuel doesn't want to talk about it with "us or with them" -- the media or the Phillies' brass -- the manager joked, "Call Pujols and ask him."
Manuel is entering the final season of an extension he signed back in 2008 and is believed to be earning close to $2 million in 2011.
"Obviously, we want to get it done," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said. "We'd love to keep Charlie in our uniform. We've been working on something since December."
The sticking point, it is believed, is that Manuel wants to be one of the game's top-paid managers after guiding the Phillies through their most successful stretch in franchise history since 2008.
"This is the only time I want to talk about it," Manuel continued. "I went through a situation [similar] before."
Though he was not specific, Manuel appeared to be referring to the messy way he left Cleveland in July, 2002. Then in the final year of his contract and with the Indians evolving into a youth movement -- they had traded Roberto Alomar the previous winter and they dealt ace Bartolo Colon to Montreal in late June -- Manuel was fired on July 11 following a showdown with Indians general manager Mark Shapiro when Manuel pressed for an answer on his future.
"Every now and then, you might think about something," Manuel said Monday. "But you stay focused. You stay busy, you stay focused, and things will work out."
Asked if he was surprised that he's starting spring training with no guarantees beyond this year, Manuel said, "Not really, no."
Asked if he was disappointed, Manuel didn't hesitate.
"Not really," he said.
While it isn't necessarily optimal for a manager to enter a season in the final year of his deal, it's not unprecedented. Tony La Russa, for one, has been working on one-year deals the past couple of seasons in St. Louis.
While Amaro said he's hopeful of striking a deal with Manuel this spring, if he doesn't, he said, it "would not be the first time int he world a manager would go into the season without a contract extension.
"We'd love to be able to put it to bed. But we'll see."