Phils: Us using binoculars? Better check Mets

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel looks on against

Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel looks on against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning. (May 10, 2010) (Credit: AP )

Trying to fend off an accusation that his team used a coach with binoculars to steal signs, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel Wednesday tried to turn the charge on the Mets.

"Somebody maybe ought to check on the Mets," Manuel said. "Their home record is out of this world. They're losing on the road. That's a good indication sometimes if they're stealing signs."

The Mets are 14-8 at Citi Field and 4-8 on the road.

"I'm not accusing them," Manuel said. "But we're about the same home and road. I'm just saying their record is much better at home and they hit better."

The tempest began when Major League Baseball told the Phillies to stop having bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer use binoculars to peer in at home plate during games, as he was caught on tape doing at Coors Field this week. Manuel said Billmeyer was watching Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz set up defensively, but the Rockies didn't buy it.

Said Rockies manager Jim Tracy: "A pair of binoculars staring down the gun barrel of the hitting area? You know what, I don't think any club in baseball that's competing against that team would take too kindly to that."

This is not the first time the Phillies have been accused of shenanigans. The Mets accused them of stealing signs through a centerfield camera at Citizens Bank Park in 2007, and the Boston Red Sox made a similar charge two years ago.

"Keep crying," the feisty Manuel told CSNPhilly.com Wednesday. Johan Santana said there might be smoke with the fire.

"There's times it seems like they're doing something," he said. "I don't know. If Colorado's [saying] something, they are seeing something. I don't really know what's going on."

Rod Barajas, who played for the Phillies in 2007, called Billmeyer a "great guy," but also wondered if the story about sign-stealing was true.

"First of all, I don't know why you have binoculars," he said. "I'm not accusing anybody of anything, but if that is the case, that's definitely wrong. If a guy at second base is stealing signs, that's one thing. That's part of the game. Us, as players, it's our job to fix it and end it. But when you have coaches in the bullpen who are relaying signs . . . if that's what was happening, that's something that's not part of this game."

This is the second controversy involving the Mets and Phillies this week. Some Mets players were upset a Phillies-Blue Jays series next month scheduled for Toronto has been switched to Philadelphia because of security concerns surrounding the G20 summit of world leaders in Toronto.

Even though the Blue Jays will be the "home" team for the three games, the Phillies will now get to play in front of their fans 84 times this season. Jeff Francoeur called it "ridiculous."

With Kimberley A. Martin and The Associated Press

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