Plays of the Day: Roger Bernadina makes a pair of nifty grabs in Phillies victory

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Roger Bernadina was very supportive of his pitching staff today, making a pair of impressive catches to help keep the Diamondback offense at bay. The athleticism is made all the more impressive considering that this afternoon’s game started just 11 hours after last night’s knock-down, drag-out, 18-inning affair ended.

The first great grab occurred In the third inning. The Phillies were leading 4-2, but the Diamondbacks were trying to mount a two-out rally with a runner on first base. Matt Davidson smoked a Roy Halladay fastball to straightaway center. Bernadina turned his back and tracked the ball just to the side of the 401 foot marker before leaping and snagging the ball before it could touch down beyond the fence.

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The second grab came in the seventh. The Phillies had strengthened their lead to 9-2 and the Diamondbacks were running out of time. With the bases empty and one out, Tuffy Gosewich hit a Cesar Jimenez change-up to shallow left-center. Left fielder Darin Ruf, not exactly the most fleet of foot, had no shot at it and it looked as if it was going to be a lucky hit for the catcher. Bernadina laid out and snagged the ball inches above the grass, recording the second out.

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On offense, Bernadina finished the day with a hit and two runs batted in.

Bernadina was released by the Nationals on August 19. On the 21st, the Phillies announced they had signed the outfielder to a Major League contract. Though he hasn’t hit much, he has filled the team’s pressing need for a capable center fielder. Since Ben Revere went on the disabled list with a broken ankle, the Phillies have mostly relied on John Mayberry in center, but have also tried Michael Martinez and Casper Wells without much success.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”