Kapler & Phillies embarrassed by Braves in series finale; drama ensues

Gabe Kapler and Philadelphia dropped series finale
It's far too early to be overly concerned, but when the manager signals to the bullpen in the third inning for a reliever who had yet to even warm up you know things are spiraling out of control.

Unfortunately, that actually happened to Phillies manager Gabe Kapler Saturday night in a 15-2 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.

Hoby Milner, being pushed into action for a third consecutive day, was summoned by Kapler in the third and still had his jacket on in the bullpen. He hurried and threw a few tosses before jogging to the mound where he met Kapler and threw five actual warm-up pitches from the mound.

It was a major miscommunication and an embarrassing moment for everyone involved, particularly Kapler.

“It’s a pretty good indication that I need to do a better job and I will,” Kapler said. “One of the things I pride myself on is being an excellent communicator and I will continue to strive for excellence in that regard. Miscommunications are just simply unacceptable and no matter where they occur in our clubhouse or in our dugout or on our field, they are always my responsibility.”

Kapler did his best to stall to allow Milner extra time to warm-up on the mound, but since it took Milner more than a minute and a half to reach the rubber Umpire Greg Gibson deducted three warm-up pitches from the usual eight given to an incoming pitcher.

Upset with the delay, Braves manager Brian Snitker voiced his disgust from the dugout as was tossed before Milner threw an actual pitch.



"[Milner] just wasn’t ready. He hadn’t thrown a pitch,” Crew chief Jerry Layne said. “Umpire Greg Gibson went out there and indicated that he deducted three pitches from the man. The last thing I want to do is get somebody hurt. It’s already a messed-up situation. He’s getting five when he got onto the mound. And Brian thought he shouldn’t have any. I said, ‘Brian, I’m not going to get somebody hurt.'”

“This will be reported to Major League Baseball. They’ll have to deal with it,” Layne said. “But I am not going to be the judge out here, right now, placing a penalty on somebody that jeopardizes their health … There’s nothing I can do about it other than report it. I can’t let somebody get hurt. Whoever is at fault for not doing their job on the Phillies side should have to answer to Major League Baseball.”

The tailspin began early for the Phillies as Vince Velasquez needed 69 pitches to record just eight outs. He failed to put hitters away when ahead. He allowed seven runs, four of which were earned, in 2 2/3 innings. He struck out four, walked two, and allowed nine hits.

Kapler used five relievers on Saturday, including utilityman Pedro Florimon to pitch the eighth inning. He made 18 pitching changes over the first three games, forcing the team to turn to a position player.

“I’m here for everything they need,” Florimon said. “I’m a utility guy. You have to get ready for whatever happens.”

Kapler said this won't be the last time a positional player is asked to pitch.

Asked if he understood how Saturday's events will look, a rookie manager, a pitcher being called into a game without being ready, a utility player pitching in just the third game of the season, Kapler said, "What I understand is that the usage of our bullpen has been to keep them safe and strong, which we have done. You can go back and look at the innings and how many pitches our guys have thrown and you'll find we have kept them safe and strong. We understand that it's early in the season and some of the usage today was designed just to get us through the game."

Perhaps Sunday's off day is coming at just the right time.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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