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Alec Bohm had a whirlwind of a Monday night — in many ways


Alec Bohm’s long-term defensive future is unclear. (Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Alec Bohm’s Monday was, to say the least, eventful.

It started in the first inning — the second batter of the ballgame. After New York Mets right fielder Starling Marte hit a comebacker that trickled off Ranger Suárez’s glove and toward Bohm, the third baseman charged, barehanded and tried to flip a wild submarine throw over to first that traveled well wide of Rhys Hoskins. Throwing error No. 1.

It continued in the second inning, when J.D. Davis hit a routine grounder Bohm’s way, which Bohm fielded cleanly before sailing the throw off the glove of a leaping Hoskins and into foul territory. Throwing error No. 2.

Then, in the third, Pete Alonso bounced one to Bohm, another routine grounder — and Bohm threw wide of the bag, forcing Hoskins to depart and attempt a swipe tag as Alonso approached first base. The initial out call was overturned when replay showed Hoskins missed him — a difficult play, to be sure. Throwing error No. 3. 

But arguably the most noteworthy play came in the second, because of what followed. After Marte hit a short bouncer that Bohm fielded cleanly before firing to first — on target, this time — Phillies fans gave the third baseman a sarcastic round of applause. Cameras then picked up Bohm saying to Didi Gregorius what appeared to be the words “I f***ing hate this place.”

He was at a low point — and so were the Phillies in the ballgame. But Bohm and his team turned things around. After he had seven balls come his way in the first three innings (including the three errors), Bohm had just one the rest of the game: a sharply hit ball in the fourth that he handled cleanly to start a 5-4-3 double play.

And at the plate, Bohm smacked a 109-mph double and drew two walks, one of which led off a five-run eighth inning that ultimately gave the Phillies an improbable 5-4 win

After the game, the video of Bohm’s words to Gregorius had already made its rounds, though, and the third baseman knew about it. 

“Look, emotions got the best of me. You know? I said it,” he conceded, despite some lip-reading ambiguity. “Do I mean it? No. It’s a frustrating night for me, obviously. Made a few mistakes in the field. Look, these people, these fans, they just want to win. I mean, you heard it when we come back. They’re great. And I’m sorry for them, you know? I don’t mean that. Emotions just got the best of me.”

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury: “So you actually love this place.”

Bohm: “Yeah. You know what? I do. Yeah.”

For his part, Phillies manager Joe Girardi said he understood what Bohm was going through. He said he told Bohm he’s been there, allowing a few passed balls over the course of his 15-year playing career. 

“I think it’s a kid that was frustrated. I don’t think the kid was referring to the city of Philadelphia, the fans. I think he was referring to the situation he was in,” Girardi said. “At that situation, you hate everything, right? Because, I mean, think about what he was probably feeling out there. He’s a young man that has worked really hard and has to overcome some things. But it was not a fun situation to be at the time.”

And for his part, Bohm’s postgame honesty was overwhelmingly well-received, at least if Twitter is a viable barometer.

That complete 180 in the hearts and minds of the fanbase is all good and well. But the reality — and this hardly feels editorial — is that the current formula is unsustainable. So far, that formula is as follows: great offense accompanied by defense so bad it arguably outweighs the great offense. Alec Bohm will not hit 1.000 this season. Put another way: While the reality for each is probably somewhere closer to the mean, it’s much easier to argue that this is who Bohm is as a defender than it is to argue that this is who Bohm is as a hitter.

“We have to get him better,” Girardi said after the game. “I mean, that’s the bottom line. We have to get him better. Find a way.”

The encouraging development for the Phillies was how Bohm responded to the early defensive miscues. Bohm has struggled with confidence before, letting mistakes in the field translate over to the plate and vice versa. That was a non-zero contributor to his down 2021 season, which saw him post a .647 OPS with -15 defensive runs saved.

But Monday seemed to offer two completely opposite sides of the Alec Bohm coin.

“I think you always worry about players’ confidence,” Girardi said. “But again, this is a game that you fail a lot, right? … His [plate appearances] were good after. Right? His [plate appearances] were real good. And I’m not so sure he would’ve done that last year.”

Bohm is a puzzling conundrum. When Bryson Stott played his way onto the Phillies’ Opening Day roster in Spring Training and Gregorius played well enough to maintain his hold on the starting shortstop job, Bohm could have been the odd man out. But Girardi saw a path to get both Stott and Bohm enough at bats at the big league level, and coupled with the appeal of letting the latter continue to work with hitting coach Kevin Long, Bohm found himself in Philadelphia for Friday’s season opener. 

He’s since started two games, shuffling in and out of the lineup in a sort of pseudo-platoon with Stott and, by extension, Gregorius. Bohm is yet to make an out. He’s 3-for-3 with a double and three walks. 

He’s also made three errors, all Monday. Of course, the defense has to be better, but it was hard not to notice the positives.

“He responded,” Girardi said of his offense specifically, admitting that his first error may have led to the next two. “Proud of his at bats, the progress that he’s made offensively. He was a big part of our offense tonight. So I think he’s growing up a little bit. I mean, we gotta do some more. But I think he’s growing up.”

Through all the ups and downs, three things were made perfectly clear on Monday: The defense is not good. The offense can be. Something has to give.

Bohm, and the Phillies, will eventually find out what.

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