The Phillies' train arrived in Washington early Tuesday morning following an 11-2 defeat to the New York Mets, their fourth defeat in five games. It was a quiet two-hour train ride.
The Phillies went just 4-7 on a season-high 11-game homestand. They entered play Tuesday with the fifth worst record in baseball.
Despite having one of the largest payrolls in the game and a handful of players who have played (and won) World Series games, the Phillies are on a path that will almost ultimately lead to their second straight losing season. But with nearly four months of baseball still in the 2014 docket, first-year manager Ryne Sandberg is attempting to right a sinking ship.
For the second time in less than a month, Sandberg called the team together upon arrival to the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park on Tuesday afternoon.
Q: This is the second time you've had to call a meeting already (the other was on May 9 at Citi Field in New York). Isn't that frustrating message has to be repeated?
Sandberg: "It was necessary. Necessary. The fact of the matter is, with all things said, we did have an opportunity to win two more games than we did with the extra innings in our last at-bat scenario (this weekend). Coming up big and somebody being the guy, multiple guys in a situation, whether it’s doing the little things to help the team or knowing the situation and having the right approach and getting the job done. That's what we need more of."
Q: It would appear with the upcoming schedule that things could get worse, that a bad showing in the next week or so could bury you...
Sandberg: "That's why it’s time right now. It’s time right now to do something about it. It’s about getting the job done, playing better, full games to allow us to have a chance to win the game. When you knock on the door numerous times, the odds are that you’ll have a chance to win the game. It’s important right now."
Q: Are some guys playing like they're just happy to be here?
Sandberg: It’s about 25 guys contributing, that was the whole meeting, everybody be ready to do your job. There here for a reason, to do their job. For me, the effort and the hustle and pre game and all of that has been constant. It’s about recognizing a game situation and having the right approach and grinding it out to do the job in that situation, whether it’s for your teammate or your team to get the job done.
Q: Are the players invested in the finish product, or a case of 'Well, I got paid already, so.."
Sandberg: "I hope not. I hope not. I hope not. That's why it’s about wining baseballs games right now, about giving my team the chance to win games. Give our team a chance to have a streak, put some wins together over two weeks, over a three-week period, whatever it may be. That's what this game is all about. That's what we need."
Q: Larry Bowa went on 97.5 The Phanatic and aired out his thoughts, said some guys are in big league uniforms but not playing like big leaguers. Your thoughts?
Sandberg: "That's where we have to execute, we have to allow ourselves to play the game and do more things correctly within a game to allow us a chance to win a game. That's where I’m coming from."
Q: So what led to meeting, sleep on it after last night's game, Bowa talking.... ?
Sandberg: "No, it was just the games that we played. I thought it was time to regroup and remind the guys on execution and game situations, to let them know I thought that was important. You have to grind it out to get the job done."