One of the lowest points of the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies season came on June 23, when after the team’s seventh consecutive loss, Bryce Harper let out a laugh when asked about then-manager Gabe Kapler’s suggestion that the team would begin using a curveball machine in batting practice to help break out of their slump:
Thursday, Harper was asked about the infamous curveball machine, and his opinion on his former manager.
“I love Kap,” Harper said Thursday to Angelo Cataldi on SportsRadio 94 WIP. “He’s very personable with his players…he understands the guys in his clubhouse…I don’t like curveball machines, I think he knew that. But, like you [Cataldi] said, he wasn’t your cup of tea, I guess you could say. He wasn’t that old style part of the game…but he was. He had that old mentality, but also he had that new mentality of ‘Hey, we’re in a new game, we’re in a new atmosphere of a team.’ I think he did a great job for us personally, but if we needed to make a change, we did and that’s what we did. We brought in Joe Girardi and we’re turning the page. I think he’s [Kapler] gonna do great things in San Fran for the Giants and him and [president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi] are gonna be that one-two punch that San Fran wants to have. I’m just excited to be with Girardi and I’m excited to turn that page.”
Despite Harper and J.T. Realmuto, the team’s two best players a season ago, publicly supporting Kapler after the conclusion of the 2019 season, the Phillies elected to part ways with the skipper after just two seasons. Of course, that didn’t come before managing partner John Middleton spent 10 plus days deliberating on the future of Kapler, a process that reportedly included seeking out the opinions of some players. One would imagine Harper, who is signed through the 2031 season, was one of those players, though that’s not confirmed, nor do we know what he said behind closed doors if he did speak on Kapler’s managerial style.
It didn’t take Kapler long to find his next job. He interviewed for managerial vacancies with the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs, before the Giants tabbed him as Bruce Bochy’s replacement on Nov. 12, just over a month after the Phillies fired him. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was the Los Angeles Dodgers general manager during Kapler’s three-season stint as the team’s director of player development, so them reuniting in San Francisco wasn’t especially surprising.
Ironically, the Giants were seen by some as the Phillies biggest competition for Harper when he became a free agent after the 2018 season. Oracle Park was also the site of Harper’s first mutli-home run game as a Phillie, as he launched two titanic home runs – one of which landed in McCovey Cove – on Aug. 9.
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