About 15 minutes before Pete Mackanin sat down in the Phillies' media room Thursday to discuss his contract extension, he spoke with reliever Joaquin Benoit about the comments Benoit made Wednesday.
Benoit, without naming them, had questioned Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure to reporters about the lack of defined roles in the Phils' bullpen. The criticism came after Benoit allowed five runs while recording one out in the Phillies' 11-6 loss to the Mariners.
"Right now I believe that it would be better if everybody knows what the role is and when you're going to contribute," Benoit said Wednesday.
"One day I'm in the seventh (inning), then I was the sixth, then the ninth, then the eighth. Right now I'm all over the place. It's a little bit consistency. Not just the pitching staff but the people that run it, too."
Mackanin says he didn't take issue with Benoit's stance.
"I told him, I said, 'Look it, when a team's going through a losing streak I don't expect everybody to be happy,'" Mackanin said. "In fact, I expect everybody to be frustrated — from the players to the coaches to myself, nobody's happy. So I don't have an issue with that. I spoke to him and it's done with, it's all over."
The idea of relievers, especially veteran relievers like the 39-year-old Benoit, seeking clearly established roles is not new. You'll hear relievers gripe about it any closer-by-committee situation when the bullpen struggles. For some guys it's absolutely necessary; for others it's just a convenient excuse for poor performance.
Phillies GM Matt Klentak, who constructed this bullpen with versatility in mind, agrees that in a perfect world, firm roles would already be established. But 2017 hasn't gone as seamlessly for the 'pen as 2016 did.
"In some respects, when I hear Joaquin talking about the need for roles, we agree with that," Klentak said. "In a perfect world, in a perfect scenario, we would. Last year it took us a week and those roles became established. Not the way necessarily we had drawn them up in spring training, but the way that they evolved. By the middle of April, we were good. We had Jeanmar (Gomez) pitching the ninth, Hector (Neris) in the eighth and (Edubray) Ramos in the seventh. We were competitive in all the one-run games. This year it's taken a little bit longer."
Does Klentak buy that his relievers need to know specifically which inning they'll be used and that when they don't, it's a reason for inconsistency?
He brought up Indians southpaw Andrew Miller in his response.
"A lot of guys can (pitch in multiple roles)," Klentak said. "There's a pretty high-profile left-hander in last year's playoffs for the American League champion that was pitching any inning he was asked and pitching multiple innings, came in with traffic.
"Some guys can, some guys can't. Players are different. Some can do it, some prefer the certainty of their role. We'll figure it out, the players will figure it out, the staff will figure out. We'll be fine."
So far the Phillies' bullpen has been anything but fine, allowing a major-league high 22 home runs with a major-league worst eight blown saves.