Link-O-Rama: Maddon says Ed Hardy was so 2008

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* Earlier this week I made a joke about Joe Maddon dying his hair black to go with his trademark hipster glasses, noting that “earrings, Ed Hardy t-shirts, and a tribal tattoo could be next for the 55-year-old Rays manager.” Turns out, he already went through the Ed Hardy t-shirt phase last year!
* Shockingly, a retired former major leaguer thinks that things were better when he played. In related news, elderly people don’t like children playing on their lawns and most people who’re older than you had to walk five miles in the snow to school every morning when they were kids.
* After being designated for assignment by the Mets yesterday Livan Hernandez has now played for five teams in four seasons while posting ERAs of 4.83, 4.93, 6.05, and 5.47. He also turns 35 years old soon. Odds that he’ll sign with another team and end up in their rotation? Probably not as bad as you’d think, at least judging from the last half-dozen years of Sidney Ponson’s career.
* It’s been quite a fall for Chris Duncan, who was released yesterday by the Red Sox just a month after they acquired him in the Julio Lugo trade. Duncan had a .952 OPS as a 25-year-old rookie in 2006, but since then his yearly OPS totals are .834, .711, and .687. And that doesn’t even count his horrible .549 mark at Triple-A following the trade.
* Stephen Strasburg met his public this afternoon. They liked him.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.