Cesar Hernandez out of the lineup, but messaging on why is unclear

Cesar Hernandez is out of Monday’s lineup in response to his lack of hustle during a play on Sunday (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire)

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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  1. Jeff Orbach

    August 27, 2019 at 9:06 am

    I remember Pete Mac benched Cesar for some bonehead play-either not hustling or getting picked off. Cesar acted as if he didn’t know why he was being benched. Mac sat him next to Bowa and he soon learned why he was benched.

  2. Jaron B

    August 27, 2019 at 9:22 am

    Kapler is not what this team needs. He is very inconsistent in discipline on this issue (although he is starting to consistently hold them out of the line-up the next day). He didn’t bench Segura last month and it spiraled out of control over the course of that week. You could argue that it started when McCutchen went down but given there weren’t any(?) incidents in between those games, I will go with last month. Kapler needs to send a stronger message from here out: no hustle? we’re pinch-running in addition to next day benching.

    And there has to be something driving this inconsistency (Mallee gone didn’t help). I think of player leadership. I’m sure there’s mentoring but there’s only been one, if any, players’ only meeting(s) during a stretch that seems to require one every 2 weeks (every series would be ideal). But then I remember the team collapsed from 8/15 of last year. Who was the manager? Kapler. One thing is clear… Kapler has to go but that is highly unlikely. However, could the front office have already made a scenario-based (playoff progress) decision like they did with Mallee? They hinted as much when they announced his firing. For me, I think of last year and this year and I think Kapler is incapable of managing… his hiring is worst than MacKanin’s firing. In Philly sports, there seems to be cases where hindsight is 20/10 (a la Lee to Seattle 12/15/09 (before 2010 season)) and Kapler is no exception: he had no success in the minors and no recent experience managing. Where does my hope lie? In that announcement of future coaching changes subsequent to Mallee’s firing and that Middleton does listen to the fans on occasion (a la Harper vs. Machado last off-season).

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