Phillies manager Charlie Manuel grows older each year, but you'd never know it from the gusto he exudes when talking about a new season ready to blossom. Decades of the baseball grind, thousands of miles worth of annual travel, countless ups and downs and the pressure that comes with coaching in the most demanding sports city in the nation simply don't take a toll on the 69-year-old.

Appearing at the annual charity winter banquet held at Lakewood, NJ's Woodlake Country Club on Wednesday, Manuel smiled and expressed considerable enthusiasm toward what's to come. The baseball lifer, whose days in pro ball date back to 1963, beamed as though he was slated to begin his coaching career instead of heading into what some deem as potentially being his final year leading a team, as his contract is up following the season.

Manuel, who is entering his ninth season as the skipper of the Phils, is excited about many aspects of the current team, despite finishing last season with an 81-81 record, their first non-winning season in a decade, and missing the post-season for the first time since 2006.