It felt like the end for Freddy Galvis on Sunday.
Not the end of his career.
No. Not at all. This guy has many good years left in the game.
But it felt like the end of Galvis' time with the Phillies and that deserves some reflection.
He signed with the club back in 2006, when he was just 16. How long ago was that? Well, the Phillies have spanned three different eras since then. They were in the throes of a 13-season playoff drought when Galvis signed. That was followed by a five-year run in which they were among the best teams in baseball. On Sunday, they completed their sixth straight non-winning season.
The Phillies did manage to end the season on a high note — with an 11-0 win over the New York Mets on Pete Mackanin's last day as manager (see story).
Galvis, a play-making fixture at shortstop for three seasons and the team's longest-tenured player, did not start the ballgame.
Given the leadership he provided to the team — remember how he showed up for work and smacked a home run just hours after the birth of his second daughter in July? — and Gold Glove-caliber defense he played the last couple of seasons, Galvis probably deserved to start the season finale. But the team was committed to getting top prospect J.P. Crawford a half-dozen starts at shortstop so he got the call Sunday. There's little room for sentimentality when you're building a team and the shortstop of the future needs reps.
Galvis, 27 and smart, understands what's going on.
"It was no big deal," he said. "It's something we had talked about."
Galvis had hoped to start all 162 games this season and was on pace to do so until Crawford came up in early September. The team spread Crawford around the infield but wanted to get him six starts at shortstop. So Galvis finished five starts shy of 162 (he made one start in center field) but did play in all 162 games, the first Phillie to do so since Ryan Howard in 2008.
Mackanin managed to get Galvis into the five games he did not start. He had a pinch-hit double in the sixth inning Sunday and received a nice ovation from the crowd, which seemed to know it might have just witnessed his last at-bat with the club.
"He's due all the respect he gets," Mackanin said.
Galvis was pleased that he could get in all 162 games.
"I think it’s pretty cool," he said. "I think just to be able to play 162 games and try to help the team is awesome. I feel proud for myself."
The Phillies have major-league ready middle infield depth in Crawford, 22, and Scott Kingery, 23. That is likely to result in general manager Matt Klentak's shopping Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez for pitching this winter. Crawford could be the opening day shortstop. The Phillies could delay Kingery's arrival for a few weeks as they look to buy an extra year of control on him before free agency.
His time as manager up, Mackanin now becomes a front-office adviser. Any insights as to what might happen, Pete?
"It's a tough decision," Mackanin said. "But I know for a fact that the people upstairs, Matt and Andy (MacPhail, the club president), all of them, they really love Freddy. They realize what a good player he is, and they also acknowledge the fact that J.P. Crawford — this guy can play, so it's a tough decision. It will be up to them. Whatever they decide is fine with me."
Deep down inside, Galvis can't be happy about being pushed to the side. But he's been a pro about it.
"It's kind of weird," he said. "But I just have to be ready for whatever happens. I'm still a Phillie right now."
Galvis was a magician with the glove as a teenager and throughout his time in the minors. He raised his game the last couple of seasons in the majors. He led NL shortstops this season in fielding percentage (.989) and total chances (637).
Galvis credits Larry Bowa, a Gold Glove shortstop in his playing days, for fine-tuning his defense the last few years.
Like Galvis, Bowa might have spent his final day in a Phillies uniform Sunday. Bowa finished his fourth season as the team's bench coach. He and the rest of the coaching staff are now free agents.
After Sunday's game, Galvis and Bowa posed for a picture on the field.
It was a poignant moment, one that spoke volumes as the two men head off to an offseason of uncertainty.
"He elevated my defensive game to different places," Galvis said. "I always knew I could pick the ball and I can make some outs, but working with Bo, he elevated my game to a different level."