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Phillies’ second Charlie Manuel era off to an auspicious start

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Hours before the Phillies opened up a three-game home series against the Cubs on Tuesday, the club announced that hitting coach John Mallee was fired. Former manager and then-senior advisor to the GM Charlie Manuel was hired to replace him.

Mallee was hired as part of rookie manager Gabe Kapler’s coaching staff last year. In 2018, the Phillies ranked 14th in batting average (.234), 10th in on-base percentage (.314), and 11th in slugging percentage (.393). In those same respective stats this season, the Phillies ranked 12th (.245), 10th (.322), and 12th (.417).

Manuel didn’t take his new role until Wednesday evening for game two of the Phillies’ series against the Cubs. The second Manuel era got off to an auspicious start as the Phillies’ offense battered Cole Hamels, making his first start in Philadelphia since being traded at the deadline in 2015. In two-plus innings of work, Hamels coughed up eight runs on nine hits and two walks. Reliever Alec Mill forked over a pair of runs in the third inning in relief of Hamels as the Phillies jumped out to a 10-0 lead after three frames. The crowd chanted, “Charlie! Charlie! Charlie!”

Bryce Harper opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run home run to left-center field. Starter Aaron Nola helped his own cause with an RBI single in the second and Rhys Hoskins later tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly. In the third, César Hernández and Adam Haseley both had RBI singles before J.T. Realmuto broke the game open with a grand slam off of Mills. Harper slugged a no-doubt solo homer off of Mills in the sixth for his second dinger of the game. Once again, the crowd at Citizens Bank Park erupted in chants of, “Charlie!”

Hard to draw it up any better than that if you’re the Phillies. They have the chance to go on a run as their upcoming schedule is not terribly difficult. After wrapping things up with the Cubs tomorrow, they’ll host the Padres before going on the road for five games against the Red Sox and Marlins. They’ll end August with home series against the Pirates and Mets, then head to Cincinnati for four games.

The harrowing tale of the end of Bobby Jenks’ baseball career

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Bobby Jenks was a key part of the 2005 world champion White Sox. By 2010, his effectiveness as a closer fell off and he signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season. He’d pitch in only 19 games that year, suffer a back injury and would never pitch again.

In the year or so after that, we heard that Jenks was arrested for driving under the influence. And then we heard that his back surgery was botched, and his baseball career was over. Then, after years of silence, we learned last spring that Jenks won $5.1 million in a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who performed his surgery.

We did not, however, know all the details until Bobby Jenks wrote about them at the Players’ Tribune this morning. This is must-click link stuff, folks.

Jenks talks about how a seemingly innocuous pitch to Jorge Posada in an early-season Red Sox-Yankees game in 2011 was the last pitch he’d ever throw. He talks about the presumably simple surgery that would supposedly get him back on the field. And then the scary complications in which he almost died due to leaking spinal fluid resulting from the botched surgery. Then, after using painkillers to deal with back pain, Jenks’ fell into drug addiction, all of which culminated in him finding himself half-naked and crazed in a car that didn’t belong to him with police and rescue workers surrounding him.

Jenks got clean but his wife left him. And then he mounted a multi-year lawsuit during which he learned that the reason his back surgery was screwed up was because the surgeon was performing two surgeries at one time, which is an apparently common practice called “concurrent surgery,” that sounds like it totally should NOT be a common practice.

Yet Jenks has survived. He’s been sober for over seven years and he seems to be in a good place. But boy did he have to go through something harrowing to get there. Definitely take the time to read it.