One of the biggest criticisms of Phillies manager Gabe Kapler since he came to Philadelphia has been accountability. He hasn’t benched players due to lack of hustle and is pretty vague about how he handles things when talking with reporters. Is that changing, though? When Nick Pivetta got demoted to Triple-A over the weekend, Kapler was very critical of the 26-year-old with regard to accountability.
On Sunday against the Marlins, Cesar Hernandez didn’t hustle on a ball he thought would be a home run and it could have been an easy double. Instead, he ended up with a single. Rhys Hoskins luckily bailed out Hernandez with a two-run homer, but his lack of hustle was still a talking point. You could tell Hernandez knew he did something wrong and he was even approached by Jay Bruce in the dugout after he crossed home plate. After the game, Hernandez said he expected to hear from Kapler and the Phillies second baseman was not seen on Monday’s lineup card. Kapler told reporters that Hernandez was not playing due to lack of hustle, mentioning that during this time of year, the littlest of details matter.
“We recognize how important every last inch is now,” Kapler said pre-game on Monday. “We know where we are in the calendar and we know what we have to do to get into the postseason and I felt like the timing was right. This is in response to yesterday’s base-running mistake where Cesar thought he hit the ball out of the ballpark and didn’t get to second base on a really important play for us.”
After Kapler’s media availability, reporters moved to the clubhouse where Cesar Hernandez stood in front of his locker. When asked about the incident, Hernandez claimed that Kapler didn’t tell him he was benched due to lack of hustle. Instead, Hernandez was apparently told he was having an off day and to be ready.
Following Hernandez’s comments, Kapler clarified to reporters that him not being in the lineup was in response to Sunday’s lack of hustle. The Phillies skipper planned to reiterate that to Hernandez.
Whether or not there was a mix-up in communication here, this isn’t something you want to see happening with a team so close to a playoff spot. Although they lost two of three in Miami, the Phillies remain 1.5 games out of a Wild Card spot with just over 30 games to play. It is Kapler’s job to make sure things like this are communicated and handled clearly and efficiently so it doesn’t reflect poorly on him to the media.
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