Arolids Chapman looks good on his first day of camp

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One of the things I’m most eager to see this spring is how Aroldis Chapman does. He’s such an unknown compared to everyone else. He’s been hyped to the nth degree. Is the hype justified? If so, he could prove to be a real difference maker, helping turn a Reds team that currently qualifies, competitively speaking, as “interesting” into one that is genuinely “frisky.”

We won’t have a clear take on Champan’s progress for a while of course, but yesterday he made his debut in Reds camp and things went well

The ball seemed to snap in Hernandez’s glove as he shouted instructions and encouragement in Spanish. Watching their
$30 million investment pitch — GM Walt Jocketty, assistant GM Bob
Miller, scout Jerry Walker, manager Dusty Baker and pitching coach
Bryan Price. Tony Fossas, the Class A Dayton pitching coach and Cuban
native, translated coaching instructions from behind the mound . . . “Very impressive,” Jocketty said. “I’d like to see him when a hitter
gets in there. He showed good command. Everything was right around the
strike zone. I watched him do his fielding drills over there and that
was pretty good.”

Maybe the coolest thing about this is the Tony Fossas sighting.  He’s the ultimate survivor, isn’t he? He wisely or luckily signed with the Cardinals just before they hired Tony La Russa, whose thing for situational lefties likely helped extend his career into his 40s. He takes a job with the Reds just before they sign the most highly-touted Cuban prospect in history, his Cuban heritage likely buying him a little more job security.

When the nukes start flying, I’m going to be wherever Tony Fossas is, because that dude will no doubt be in the right place. 

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.