Phillies

With touching sendoff, Phillies send Pete Mackanin out with a day he'll never forget

With touching sendoff, Phillies send Pete Mackanin out with a day he'll never forget

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Lineup card in hand, Pete Mackanin began his final pregame walk to home plate as Phillies manager. A ripple of applause rose in the stands and swelled with every step Mackanin took. By the time he was done handing his lineup card to the umpires, the applause had become a standing ovation and it accompanied Mackanin all the way back to the dugout, where his players, without planning or coaxing, spilled out to salute him on his last day as the team's skipper.
 
"I almost started crying," the 66-year-old baseball lifer said when it was all over Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "It was really special. It meant a lot to me. I looked at (bench coach Larry) Bowa and said, 'Is this for me?' He said, 'Yeah, tip your cap.' I didn't know what to do.
 
"My wife and son were in the stands in the second row and I couldn't look at them. I knew my wife would be crying. I didn't want to start crying myself."
 
Three days after being told he would not manage the club in 2018, Mackanin's team blew out the New York Mets, 11-0, in the season finale (see observations). The beginning and end of the game dripped with symbolism, from the touching sendoff of the outgoing manager to the eighth-inning, three-run, inside-the-park home run by Nick Williams, one of the exciting rookies that helped the growing team post a 37-38 record after the All-Star break.
 
"What a way to end that game with an inside-the-park home run," Mackanin said. "A great day for the Phillies, a great day for me. It was really special, probably one of the best days of my career.
 
"I can't remember all the run scoring, but it's been a special day for me. I want to thank the fans for coming out all season."
 
Mackanin took over as Phillies manager when Ryne Sandberg resigned in late June 2015 and recorded a 174-238 record as skipper. The rebuilding team endured a difficult first half this season, going 29-58 before the All-Star break, but played well under Mackanin down the stretch. The Phils went 16-13 in September.
 
For the season, the Phillies were 66-96 and finished third from the bottom in the majors. They will pick third in the draft next year.
 
The strong finish was not enough to save Mackanin's job. General manager Matt Klentak came aboard in October 2015 and inherited Mackanin as skipper. They had a good working relationship, but Klentak said Friday he wanted a new voice and new style to lead the team. Mackanin will stay on as a front-office adviser.
 
"We have a lot of good-looking young talent that we can be proud of and look forward to the future with," he said.
 
Some of that young talent was on display Sunday. Maikel Franco, who has yet to put his talent together in a consistent way, slugged a three-run home run, his 24th of the season and 49th over the last two. Odubel Herrera clubbed his 42nd double. Williams punctuated the day with his inside-the-park homer. Starting pitcher Nick Pivetta survived five walks and a hit batsman to register five scoreless innings and seven strikeouts in earning the win.
 
Williams finished with 12 homers and 55 RBIs in 83 games. Rhys Hoskins sputtered to the finish line. He went just 7 for 52 (.135) with 19 strikeouts and 11 walks over the final two weeks, but, oh, those 18 home runs in his first month in the majors electrified the town and helped the Phillies do a lot of winning over the final weeks of the season.
 
"One thing I'm real happy about is the players never quit," Mackanin said. "They played hard and played with energy. I'm real proud of them for that.
 
"Some of the players who were with us from the beginning of the year showed improvement and with the emergence of a couple of the young guys, it gave us a spurt of energy and a more positive attitude. Looking forward, if you combine those two things then there's a lot of things we can feel good about going into next year."
 
Mackanin said he would keep the lineup card from his last game as Phillies skipper as a memento.
 
And, of course, that pregame salute from the fans and the players will always hold a special place in his heart.
 
"I'll remember it forever," he said.

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

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Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Miami has agreed to trade left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced and was subject to a physical.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. The Cardinals had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.

"I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, that didn't work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?"

Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. St. Louis could trade right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.

Source: Phillies finalizing 2-year deal with Tommy Hunter

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Source: Phillies finalizing 2-year deal with Tommy Hunter

Matt Klentak keeps adding to his bullpen.

The Phillies are finalizing a two-year deal with reliever Tommy Hunter, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury on Tuesday night.

The experienced right-hander will join veteran righty Pat Neshek, who is on the verge of re-signing with the Phillies, multiple sources said on Monday (see story).

Hunter, 31, has played for five teams over parts of 10 seasons. In 61 games (58 2/3 innings) with the Rays in 2017, Hunter posted career bests with a 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and .202 opponents' batting average, to go with 64 strikeouts and 14 walks. He started his career as a starter after he was taken in the first round of the 2007 draft by the Rangers. Since 2013, he has come out of the bullpen, compiling a 3.12 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.

In 2011, Hunter was traded to the Orioles from Texas when current Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was in Baltimore. MacPhail left the Orioles after the 2011 season.

Hunter and Neshek will complement an already promising group of Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos and Hoby Milner.

"I think if we can run out a bullpen of seven or eight guys that are all high-leverage type arms, then we can start matching up in the fifth or sixth inning," Klentak said Monday at the winter meetings. "If there are days when our young starters throw 100 pitches to get us through five or six innings, we shouldn't be in a position where that’s taxing our bullpen because we have the ability to carry an eighth bullpen member next year. We shouldn’t be in a position where we lose our competitiveness in the sixth inning because we should have a deep bullpen where we start throwing really good players out there early in the game. If it turns out that’s the best way for us to improve our run prevention, then that’s the way to do."