Results tagged ‘ Pete Mackanin ’

Howard at Peace with Future, Platoon

Ryan HowardRyan Howard noshed on a burrito bowl as he stood in front of his locker and discussed his future on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park. He knows this is likely his final season with the Phillies, and he knows he is likely to spend it as a platoon player.

He seems at peace with the situation.

“You understand that this is the game, this is the business,” Howard said before a game against the Reds. “You understand the team has talked about going in a different direction and stuff like that. You understand that.”

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin started Darin Ruf at first base on Wednesday against Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan, two days after Mackanin had Ruf pinch-hit for Howard in the eighth inning against left-hander Paul Cingrani. Howard as a platoon player has been a topic of conversation for some time, but the Phillies have waffled in the past.

Not anymore.

“Yeah, without question I’m going to continue to do it,” Mackanin said. “Like I told Howie, you know, Darin Ruf did so well against lefties (last season) I think he deserves an opportunity to see if he can make a little bit of money, too. I think if (Howard) keeps his head on straight and settles into it, I think he’s going to hit righties better. I’m looking for a big year from him because of it.”

Howard did not bristle as reporters questioned him about it Wednesday. He coolly discussed his situation.

He would have been far less willing to talk about it last year.

“I just don’t let things bother me anymore,” Howard said. “Last year I let things, I let a lot of things kind of surprise me. And now it’s like, it is what it is. You just continue to stay positive. The situation is what the situation is. You can get down about it, you can get upset about it or what not. Or you can try to make the best of the situation, when the opportunity comes.”

Howard is entering the final season of a five-year, $125 million contract. The Phillies have a club option for 2017, but they are expected to exercise a $10 million buyout instead. They have tried to trade him, but have found no takers.

So in the meantime, they hope Howard and Ruf can be a productive platoon at first base. There is reason to think they should be. Howard hit .256 with 20 home runs, 67 RBIs and an .802 OPS in 396 plate appearance against righties last season, while Ruf hit .371 with eight homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.107 OPS in 114 plate appearances against lefties.

“Could be dangerous,” Howard said of the platoon. “That’s what they’re banking on.”

Conversely, Howard posted a .418 OPS in 107 plate appearances against lefties, while Ruf posted a .483 OPS in 183 plate appearances against righties.

“Obviously it’s something that’s been talked about for however many years,” Howard said. “So it’s not really a surprise. You know, I guess Pete had his mind made up that this is what he was going to do. But it’s the situation we’re in right now. And I want Ruff to be able to go out there and tear it up. And when I get my opportunities, be able to go out there and tear it up. And just see what happens from there.”

Howard had been one of the best power hitters in baseball from 2005-11. He helped the Phillies win one World Series, two NL pennants and five NL East titles. He won the 2006 NL MVP and the 2005 NL Rookie of the Year Award. He is the greatest first baseman in franchise history

But after injuries and a drop in production since 2011 this is probably it.

“I wouldn’t say this is probably it,” Howard said. “I mean, it’ll probably be it in Philadelphia. There’s always that realization. There is no hiding that. But, like I said, you just try to enjoy it. Just really want to try and enjoy it, whether it’s here, whether it’s somewhere else, just, for however long it is that you get to play, take time to be able to reflect at times on what I’ve been able to do, what I’ve been able to accomplish. But, you know, right now I’m just staying in the here and now. It’s Game 2. Be ready today when my name is called and go out there any other time it’s called.”

Mackanin Gives Plans for Howard, Chooch and More

Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Pete Mackanin revealed plans for a few of his players hours before Opening Day today at Great American Ball Park.

  • Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz were in the starting lineup and they are expected to be in the lineup next Monday against the Padres in the home opener at Citizens Bank Park. Howard and Ruiz are in the final seasons of their contracts and they are not expected to return next season. “I wanted to make sure that Chooch started Opening Day and the same thing with Ryan,” Mackanin said. “We’ll just go from there. I’d like them to start, if possible, on Opening Day at home, and I’ll try to do that for sentimental reasons.”
  • Mackanin declined to name a closer. “I’m thinking about it as we speak,” he said, asked who will pitch Monday if the Phillies have a ninth inning lead. Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure had a meeting yesterday with the bullpen. They discussed the possibilities for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. “There’s going to be a mix of a lot of different guys,” Mackanin said. “We’ll just see how it plays out. Eventually somebody will be that last pitcher. It’s almost like an audition. It might be any one of five guys that will end up as our closer. And if not we’ll close by committee, even though I don’t want to do that. If that’s what we have to work with that’s what we’re going to do.”
  • Cameron Rupp will get the bulk of playing time behind the plate, which is not a surprise. “Chooch is moving up in age,” Mackanin said. “He’s still capable. I think if we keep him healthy and he plays less I think we’re going to get more out of him.”
  • Cedric Hunter will start in left field today. He entered Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, but impressed the coaching staff with the quality of his plate appearances. Mackanin said Hunter and Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Goeddel will start the season as a platoon in left field.
  • “We’ll give Goeddel a chance, even though he didn’t have that good of a spring,” Mackanin said. “He showed a few things that I think he’s going to be OK. We’ll work it in to start the season and we’ll go from there.”

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You’re Fined! And You’re Fined! Everybody Is Fined!

Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Philadelphia Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin watches during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Friday, July 10, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Phillies are sweating the small stuff this spring because they know they have little room for error. So Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is fining his players 50 cents at a time for those little mistakes on the field.

“If you don’t get a bunt down, everyone pays 50 cents,” Mackanin said before Thursday night’s Grapefruit League game against the Braves at Champion Stadium. “If you don’t hustle, everyone pays 50 cents. If you miss a cutoff man, everyone pays 50 cents.

“It’s a way to be picky about little things, like you made it into second base, but you should’ve slid. You hit a double, but you coasted into second when you should’ve come around hard in case the guy bobbles the ball. Fifty cents. It allows me to be a real (jerk) about things like that. What, are you going to complain about 50 cents?”

So how much is in the pot at this point?

“We’re closing in 1,000 dollars,” Mackanin said.

He said the proceeds likely will go to the Baseball Assistance Team.

“When I announce the fines and this week you have $2.50, a half dozen players get on that guy,” Mackanin said. “Not meanly, but like, ‘Come on, don’t do that anymore.’”

Phillies React to Amaro Leaving

Amaro_TWRyan Howard has watched the final few pieces of the 2008 World Series championship team chipped away over the past nine months.

Ruben Amaro Jr. became the latest casualty today, when the team announced he will not return as general manager. Amaro served as Pat Gillick’s assistant in 2008. He joins Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, who were traded in the organization’s rebuilding effort.

“There’s me and Chooch,” Howard said, referring to teammate Carlos Ruiz. “That’s about it. When you come up and you have success with guys – you understand the business aspect of it, you understand things come to an end – but when you’re able to play along Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins or Cole Hamels on a regular basis and build what you’ve been able to build here, yeah, it’s sad to see certain guys go. But at the same time, we understand that’s what happens in the game.

“It’s kind of the same conversation we’ve been having all year. Guys coming and going and all that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, that’s part of the business sometimes. He’s been here since the beginning for me. I wish (Amaro) the best of luck. I appreciate the opportunities that were given to me.”

Scott Proefrock served as Amaro’s assistant general manager since November 2008. He will be interim general manager until Phillies president Andy MacPhail hires a replacement. Proefrock took the news hard, as many in the front office did.

“I was stunned,” he said. “I was surprised the change was made. I know we got a late start on the rebuilding process, but I think we were headed in the right direction. I think we are headed in the right direction. I think we’ve made some positive moves and helped put talent back in the system and a lot of good things are happening in the Minor Leagues. We won three regular season championships in the Minor Leagues.

“Ruben is as much a friend as he was my boss and I owe him a lot. This is not the way I would have liked something like this to happen, but I owe it to the organization to continue what we’ve started in the rebuilding process and keep it going as long as they want me to and go from there.”

MacPhail made a point in his news conference to mention that the first words from Amaro’s mouth when he was told he would not return was to ask about the fate of the people who served underneath him.

“It doesn’t surprise me knowing Ruben and the type of person he is that that would be his first concern,” Proefrock said. “I’ve worked in five different organizations and this is by far the best organization I’ve ever worked in. The way they treat their people, the family atmosphere. I hope I work in this organization for the rest of my career because there’s no place better that I’ve experienced in the game. And I know Ruben was a big part of that.”

Said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin: “I consider Ruben a friend and it’s a sad day to see him go. I’m not worried about his future in baseball. He is a very talented baseball guy and he’s going to rebound and end up somewhere else, a job that he wants.”

Cesar’s Time: Utley Is No Longer No. 1 Second Baseman

Chase UtleyChase Utley is the greatest second baseman in Phillies history, but it appears Cesar Hernandez’s time has come.

Hernandez, 25, entered tonight’s game against the Dodgers hitting .302 (54-for-179) with 10 doubles, one triple, one home run, 19 RBIs and a .771 OPS in 71 games. Meanwhile, Utley is on the disabled list with an injured right ankle. He is hitting .179 (39-for-218) with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 25 RBIs and a .532 OPS in 65 games.

But is the iconic Utley, 36, still the primary second baseman when he returns from the DL?

“Not for me he’s not,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman.”

So whenever Utley returns …

“I would assume that Cesar will be our second baseman,” Amaro said. “Chase’s situation will kind of dictate itself, how he feels. There’ll be time for him to play, I think. He could play some first base. He could play some second. But as far as I’m concerned, just like what our plan has been for a long, long time, that’s to give opportunities to young men who could be part of our future. Cesar Hernandez has been one of our best players on the field right now in a variety of ways.”

Not surprisingly, Utley had little reaction about Amaro’s comments.

“Well, I think Cesar has done a really good job,” Utley said. “There you go.”

Pete Mackanin seems to be on board with Amaro. Asked for a health update on Utley before the game, Mackanin said, “I haven’t heard a word. But with Cesar playing so well, it’s not really a big deal for the simple reason that Utley has not played and seen pitching, so when he does come back … you really can’t count on him. How long has it been? Two weeks. And by the time he starts taking BP and all of that stuff, it’s probably going to be a month before he comes back in and then what do you do? I don’t know.”

Utley’s ankle has improved since a cortisone injection. He could begin baseball activities before the end of the road trip.

He also said recently he could be back on the field before the end of the month.

Nola Won’t Pitch Saturday, But He’s Coming Soon

nolaThe Phillies need a starting pitcher Saturday at AT&T Park in San Francisco, but it will not be Triple-A right-hander Aaron Nola.

But it sure sounds like Nola will be in the big leagues before the end of the month.

“He’s getting closer,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon at Dodger Stadium. “At some point after the All-Star break, yeah.”

Of course, that could mean anytime between July 17 and the end of the regular season, but Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said he expects more changes to the rotation following the All-Star break. That could mean injured right-handers Jerome Williams and Aaron Harang rejoin the team, but with Cole Hamels expected to be traded before the July 31 Trade Deadline it almost certainly means Nola, too.

“We have a plan in place, and we’ll execute it,” Amaro said. “We have a good thought about when he’s going to be pitching for us.”

The Phillies outrighted right-hander Sean O’Sullivan following last night’s 10-7 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. They recalled right-hander Hector Neris to take his place on the roster. Neris will help in the bullpen until Saturday, when the Phillies need to add a starter.

Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander David Buchanan is the smart bet. He got pulled after three innings and 40 pitches Tuesday, which means he could pitch Saturday. Amaro said they also are considering options outside the organization.

“We haven’t made a final decision on it,” Amaro said. “It’s time for us to turn it over.”

The Phillies also designated right-hander Kevin Correia for assignment. Rookie right-hander Severino Gonzalez will pitch in his place Thursday. Of course, Gonzalez has not exactly pitched well. He is 3-2 with an 8.28 ERA in six starts. He has not pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in any of those starts. The inability to pitch six or more innings has been a big problem for the rotation.

“I would rather give the young man an opportunity,” Amaro said, explaining the difference between Correia and Gonzalez. “He’s throwing better. His stuff’s better. I’d rather give the young man an opportunity to do it at this stage of the game and see how he fares.”

“It’s time to do something. It’s past (time),” Mackanin said. “We’re happy about getting something changed, I am at least. We got a fresh arm in the bullpen which is huge. I don’t like to keep starters on the field longer than they should, but we’ve bene forced to do that. So we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll get Williams healthy and Harang healthy. Now Seve. There probably will be more changes down the road. So down the road, just get through the All-Star break and regroup, start over.”

MacPhail Arrival Becomes Official Today

macphailA critical piece to the Phillies’ future will be introduced this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Phillies ownership partner John Middleton and president Pat Gillick will introduce Andy MacPhail at a 2:30 p.m. press conference, where he is expected to succeed Gillick. MacPhail is assuming control of the organization at a significant time, with the Phillies holding the worst record in baseball and trying to rebuild for postseason contention in a few years.

MacPhail will play a vital role in the potential trades of veterans Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang and others before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

He also will decide the fate of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., whose contract expires at the end of the season. Amaro is expected to remain GM for the foreseeable future.

Ryne Sandberg resigned as Phillies manager on Friday, leaving Pete Mackanin as interim manager. The Phillies only have said Mackanin will serve in that role through the homestand, which ends Thursday, probably because they did not want to announce anything official until MacPhail’s introduction.

MacPhail has experience leading three organizations.

He served as Twins general manager when Minnesota won the 1987 and 1991 World Series. He served as Cubs president from 1994-2006, helping the Cubs reach the postseason twice. He then served five seasons as Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, making some of the trades that helped the Orioles return to the postseason.

Changes to Coaching Staff; Sandberg Likely In

More changes are coming.

The Phillies announced their first changes following today’s season finale at Nationals Park, where they informed bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo they will not be back in 2013.

“I think when you want to do some things, people on your staff, most of the time they’re the ones that have to be let go or moved or whatever,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel explained. “I think that’s just the position it’s in.”

Mackanin replaced Jimy Williams as bench coach following the 2008 season. Perlozzo replaced third base coach Steve Smith following the 2008 season before moving to first base in 2011. Gross, who served two tours as Phillies hitting coach, rejoined the team in July 2010, when the Phillies fired Milt Thompson.

It is expected Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Ryne Sandberg will join the coaching staff in 2013, unless he takes a big-league managing job elsewhere.

The coaching staff changes will only lead to more significant changes on the 25-man roster.

“We’re definitely going to have some changes on our roster,” Manuel said. “How many or what, I really don’t know. From talking to Ruben (Amaro Jr.), we’re going to try to get better and get back to compete, win our division and have a chance at the World Series.”

People Like the Phillies

So we learned today Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock will interview for Baltimore’s GM vacancy and Ryne Sandberg will interview for St. Louis’ managerial vacancy.

They’re not the only Phillies personnel teams are interested in.

Bench coach Pete Mackanin just interviewed for Boston’s managerial vacancy. Big league scout Jim Fregosi Jr. left to become special assistant to the general manager in Kansas City, and Double-A manager Mark Parent left to become the bench coach with the Chicago White Sox.

It is worth noting the Cubs have told Sandberg he will not be a candidate for their managerial vacancy. I believe if Mackanin gets hired somewhere, the Phillies would promote Sandberg as his replacement. The Phillies love Sandberg. In fact, I think if Sandberg somehow remains with the organization he would be a front runner to replace Charlie Manuel once his contract expires and he decides he has had enough of managing.

Rollins: Stolen Base Shouldn’t Have Upset Giants

Jimmy Rollins stole second base with a six-run lead in the top of the sixth inning last night at AT&T Park.

Could that have fueled Giants pitcher Ramon Ramirez to drill Shane Victorino in the back with a first-pitch fastball, instigating a bench clearing brawl?

“I wouldn’t have done it,” Carlos Beltran said.

Rollins offered his take this morning.

“Two things,” he said. “Either Charlie (Manuel) stops me or they don’t hold me on. When you’re holding the guy on you’re still playing the game. You’re not conceding. If you concede the running part of the game, then I’ll concede the running part of the game. If you’re holding me on you’re saying, ‘We’re still playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played.’

“You’ve got 12 outs (remaining). In the seventh inning obviously I’m not going to run. But in the sixth inning? When we don’t want guys to run our bench coach (Pete Mackanin) tells Ryan (Howard) to back up, play behind him or whatever. OK, the running game is off. The running game usually stops after the sixth or if it’s just way out of hand early. Like if it’s 7-0 in the second or third inning you don’t run. I understand the gentleman’s code, but if you’ve got 12 outs to work with? I’ve got the green light. It’s on until they take it off or you take it off.”


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