PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In the two years Gabe Kapler has been manager of the Phillies, he’s been accused of a variety of things. One area he has been true in is the backing of his players.
Despite media, social media and fan backlash, Kapler has shown unflagging support for his players, refusing to go public or divulge anything to the media when it comes to what he says to his team behind closed doors.
One constant of Kapler is that he’s been more of “a friend” than “a coach” to his team. While that may or may not actually be true, what has recently surfaced is the players that have come under question for their dubious hustle have been paying recent dividends to the Phillies in their recent four-game winning streak over the lowly New York Mets.
In the last two games, Jean Segura, who many thought should have been benched for not hustling last week against Washington, provided the game-winning, walk-off three-run homer in the Phils’ 6-3 win over the Mets on Thursday and his two-run double in the bottom of the seventh tied the game in the Phillies’ eventual 5-4 win on Wednesday.
Kapler has pushed hard against benching Segura and Cesar Hernandez, who also came under question about not getting out of the box quick enough on a ball he felt may have been foul in the bottom of the eighth in the Phils’ 5-3 loss over Miami on June 22. Hernandez ended up with a single on what could have easily been a double. The next batter, Bryce Harper, wound up hitting into a double play.
Through it all, Kapler has stood by his players.
Up until recently, they hadn’t exactly rewarded that loyalty, underachieving during a seven-game losing streak.
Still, Kapler’s faith and trust in his players looks like it is being repaid now.
“Let me start with this—it would be easy to bench players and I know that it would make a significant segment of the fan base happy,” Kapler bluntly told 94WIP Morning Show host Angelo Cataldi on Wednesday. “And I would not have to face questions about it every day and you know what, in the end maybe my job would be safer. It would be easy, but it wouldn’t be right. I see our fans as an important part of what we do every day, but I can’t and I won’t manage based on online polls. I’m gonna make decisions that I believe are in the best interest of our team based on what’s happening inside that clubhouse.”
Kapler went on to make a telling statement about today’s pro athlete: “… punishment doesn’t teach emotional control during our most challenging times. And punishment doesn’t ensure that we’re gonna see foul or fair better with more accuracy. It’s a minute of emotional release for fans, and sometimes for decision makers, but not for the clubhouse who continues to see the effort that Cesar has brought for years and who has seen hustle from Jean and I don’t want to let those clubhouse guys down. The guys that we have in that room are professionals. They don’t need a big public spectacle to understand the pressure and the urgency and they don’t need a stunt like removing somebody from a lineup.
“I see every one of our players working their [butts off] to be the best they can be every single day. So failure happens in this game, but I trust the group in that room and I’m gonna have their backs every single day because they deserve that.”
Right now, that steadfast loyalty is being rewarded.