Phillies second baseman César Hernández thought he hit a home run in the sixth inning of Sunday afternoon’s loss to the Marlins. He didn’t hustle out of the box, so what should have been a double turned into a long single. Hernández still ended up scoring on a go-ahead two-run home run from Rhys Hoskins. The Phillies would go on to lose 3-2, dropping two of three games in Miami.
Manager Gabe Kapler told reporters, including The Athletic’s Meghan Montemurro, that Hernández is not in Monday’s lineup against the Pirates because of his lack of hustle on Sunday. Kapler said, “The little things really matter right now. I thought it was appropriate to show it was meaningful to all of us.” Last night, Kapler called Hernández’s effort “an unacceptable base running play.”
One problem: Hernández said to the media that Kapler told him his absence from Monday’s lineup had nothing to do with his lack of hustle, per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb.
The Phillies have had two other non-hustle incidents this season. In June, shortstop Jean Segura didn’t run out a couple of batted balls. Kapler did not bench Segura. A month later, third baseman Maikel Franco didn’t run out a grounder. Kapler did bench Franco. So not only is there inconsistency with Kapler’s story as it pertains to Hernández, there is inconsistency in how he handles non-hustling players.
Kapler said of benching Segura, “Jean is one of our eight best players. I don’t think taking one of our eight best players and our shortstop out of our lineup is what’s best for the Philadelphia Phillies.” It’s a more progressive line of thinking as opposed to the old-school mentality of expecting every player to hustle on every single play. However, sports radio has a lot of pull in Philly and it’s a city-wide controversy every time an incident like Segura’s or Franco’s or Hernández’s pops up. There is pressure on Kapler to hold his players accountable in this particular way, even if it does hurt the team and doesn’t truly reflect Kapler’s managing style. It would not surprise me if the reason Kapler’s story isn’t straight is because he’s trying to put on a face to appease a loud portion of the fan base.