Rough week for New York Mets rookie manager Mickey Callaway?
Gabe Kapler can sympathize.
In case you missed it, Callaway took the blame — and plenty of heat in the Big Apple — for the Mets’ batting out of order Wednesday. They were docked an out and their first-inning rally fizzled in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, their eighth defeat in nine games.
Callaway’s gaffe brings to mind the Phillies’ first series of the season in Atlanta, when Kapler summoned a relief pitcher who had not yet warmed up. Kapler received a public chastising from umpire Jerry Layne, a warning from the commissioner’s office and a thorough booing when the Phillies were introduced before the home opener.
But the Phillies had won 21 of their last 32 games entering Friday night’s series opener against Callaway’s Mets and were a half-game out of first place. Kapler rightly attributed the team’s success to his players’ performance. But he also acknowledged that he has learned from his early mistakes.
“I try to learn from every experience, both positive and negative,” Kapler said. “We’re constantly tweaking our process, constantly adjusting and constantly being responsive to the environment.”
Callaway told reporters that he and his coaches have altered the way they prepare and present the daily lineup card to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’s snafu.
But it’s probably not the last snafu that will happen on Callaway’s watch, just as Kapler knows he will encounter other tough times. It’s how they respond in those times that will determine whether they succeed as managers.
“I was and remain very cognizant and aware of the fact that there are going to be difficult stretches and there are going to be really enjoyable, fun stretches,” Kapler said. “And I am going to be even and work a very strong process no matter which direction the tide is going.”
As the Phils’ offense has gotten hot over the past two weeks, left fielder Rhys Hoskins has been uncharacteristically cool. Entering Friday night, Hoskins had only six hits — three for extra bases — in his last 43 at-bats.
“Just his timing and his rhythm are a little bit off,” Kapler said. “He’s kind of starting his leg kick and his dance a tiny bit too late or a tiny bit too early, and for me, that stuff works itself out with time. It’s a comfort thing.”
The Mets entered the series batting .203 with a .568 OPS against lefthanded pitching, the worst numbers in baseball. Good thing for them, then, that the Phillies have an all-righthanded pitching staff. Kapler said he feels comfortable using relievers Tommy Hunter, Serathony Dominguez and Luis Garcia in certain situations against lefties. … Righthanders Mark Leiter Jr. (forearm) and Jerad Eickhoff (upper back) are scheduled to begin minor-league rehab assignments at high-A Clearwater. Leiter is slated to throw 2 1/3 innings Saturday, and Eickhoff will go three innings or 50 pitches Monday. … Reliever Victor Arano (shoulder) threw a 26-pitch bullpen session. … Shortstop J.P. Crawford (forearm) has progressed to light throwing and hitting off a tee. … Pitching coach Rick Kranitz left the team to attend his daughter’s college graduation, leaving his duties to assistant pitching coach Chris Young.