Phillies

Feisty Sean Rodriguez defends himself, Rhys Hoskins, against the wrath of 'entitled' fans

Feisty Sean Rodriguez defends himself, Rhys Hoskins, against the wrath of 'entitled' fans

Since debuting in the major leagues a little over two years ago, Rhys Hoskins has played hard, he’s played hurt — remember the broken jaw? — and he’s produced. Seventy-seven homers and 217 RBIs in 332 games, to be exact.

Hoskins is now mired in a terrible slump, one that has dragged his batting average down to .233. He popped up with the bases loaded and the game on the line in the ninth inning Monday night and was booed — loudly — on his way back to the dugout.

Hoskins heard the boos. It was impossible not to. But they did not bother him.

“We won the game,” he said. “We won the game.

“I couldn’t care less about (the boos). We won the game. Yeah, we won the game.”

The Phillies won the game, 6-5, over the Pittsburgh Pirates in 11 innings at Citizens Bank Park because the guy a couple lockers down from Hoskins came through with an absolutely huge walk-off home run.

Pirates reliever Michael Feliz got Sean Rodriguez to swing through a pair of sliders to run the count to 1-2. Feliz, obviously, was feeling pretty good about getting Rodriguez to swing through a third straight slider so he threw the pitch again.

This time, Rodriguez made him pay with a game-winning line drive over the left-field wall.

Rodriguez sprinted around the bases and was mobbed at home plate. After the game, party lights, freshly mounted to the clubhouse walls, shot beams of color around the happy room. The Phillies earned some celebration time because they rallied for three runs in the eighth, all on a pair of homers, survived a blown save from Hector Neris in the ninth, then walked it off with another homer in the 11th.

The victory left the Phils at 68-62, just a game off the pace in the wild-card race, with 32 to play.

“Every game is critically important right now,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Tonight felt like a playoff game and I think our players treated it like a playoff game and gave everything they have and I think that’s going to be the case every night going forward.”

The victory had to have been doubly sweet for Kapler. Over the last month, coinciding with Maikel Franco’s being sent to the minors twice, Kapler has been questioned and criticized for keeping Rodriguez on his bench. The manager has staunchly defended keeping Rodriguez because he likes the player’s versatility in the field and his quality of at-bats as a pinch-hitter.

But lately at the plate — albeit in limited at-bats — Rodriguez has struggled. He was 1 for 20 with 11 strikeouts in the month of August before his game-winning homer.

“He put a pretty good swing on that ball,” Kapler said. “He had a nice at-bat earlier in the game, a big walk for us, as well. He played some good center field for us. I understand some of the criticism and I was really happy for Sean. When he came off the field, it was a pretty happy moment for him. I think he was even taking some heat from his teammates for taking a long time to get in the clubhouse after a long celebration. Our team was as happy for Sean as they could possibly be.”

Rodriguez was also happy.

“It’s always nice to contribute to a ‘W,’ “ he said. "The guys in here want to win."

Rodriguez’ recent struggles leading up to his big moment of triumph were a natural part of the narrative Monday night. But Rodriguez got a little feisty and defensive when reporters mentioned those struggles. He alluded to the difficulty of staying sharp when a hitter gets only limited at-bats. He mentioned the difficulty of facing top relievers late in games.

“I’m just defending that position, not me as a player, per se,” Rodriguez said. “I think that’s the misconception a lot of people make. ‘Well, you can’t struggle. You can’t go that bad.’ Every hitter does it. The only difference is when someone is playing every day, there’s a chance that they’re going to sneak a hit in here and there.”

Rodriguez admitted that he was aware that his spot on the roster had become an issue with fans and critics alike.

“Who’s looking bad and feeling entitled when you hear stuff like that?” he said. “I’m not the one booing. I’m not the one screaming. I’m not the one saying pretty disgusting things at times. That seems pretty entitled. You’re just making yourself look pretty bad as an individual, as a person, as a fan. That’s tough.

"There’s still a lot of good fans, though. Those are the ones I hear and pay attention to. The few that might be behind home plate and say, ‘Hey, Sean, keep doing your thing. Don’t worry about it. Things will come around.’ “

They came around for Rodriguez on Monday night.

Maybe Hoskins, hitting .164 since the All-Star break, will be next.

Rodriguez is pulling for his teammate to turn the boos into cheers.

“The guy has 60-plus homers in three years and you’re booing him,” Rodriguez said. “Explain that to me. That’s entitled fans. I don’t know if it’s them feeling like they’re owed something. There’s nobody in here that doesn't want to win. That’s what sucks. When we hear that, we’ve learned to try and take that and use it like we should. But if I sat here and just buried you every single day verbally, is that helping?”

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Nationals poised for trip to World Series ... so fans are celebrating Bryce Harper's absence?

Nationals poised for trip to World Series ... so fans are celebrating Bryce Harper's absence?

The Washington Nationals are now one win away from a trip to the World Series thanks in large part to Stephen Strasburg's admittedly amazing performance on Monday night over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nationals fans should be stoked about their team. And it's likely, in some ways, that they are. But it's also somewhat bizarre what some Nats fans have chosen to celebrate.

This photo and tweet have been making the rounds this morning and caused a bit of a buzz in Philadelphia.

Tickets - $35, Beer - $10, Bryce Harper watching from home - Priceless

Let's just ignore the fact you can get into a NLCS game for $35 in DC for a second.

Your team is poised to celebrate a league title and you're celebrating the fact that a guy who used to be on your team is... no longer on your team? Okay.

The person in the replies who said it's like going to your own wedding and being most excited about the fact that your ex wasn't invited to the party makes a solid point. It's weird.

I suppose it's worth cutting Nationals fans some slack in this situation because they don't know what it's like to actually make it to the World Series and you've got to learn how to react to things by actually experiencing them.

So, if they end up making it to and losing in the World Series to the New York Yankees or Houston Astros, Nats fans will know how to react to that. They're used to losing in the playoffs.

I wonder what they'll celebrate then?

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Philadelphia native Mike Koplove emerges as strong candidate for Phillies' scouting director job

Philadelphia native Mike Koplove emerges as strong candidate for Phillies' scouting director job

The Phillies have two huge job openings to fill in their baseball operations department.

Obviously, they are looking for a new manager, and that process ramped up on Monday.

The team also needs to fill the important scouting director’s role. That job opened when Johnny Almarez stepped down in September.

The search for a new scouting boss is being led by assistant general manager Bryan Minniti and it is apparently well underway.

According to multiple major league sources, the Phillies have conducted a number of recent interviews for the position. Among those to interview are in-house candidates Greg Schilz, Mike Koplove and Darrell Conner.

Outside candidates, according to sources, include David Crowson of the Miami Marlins, Sam Hughes of the Chicago Cubs, Brian Barber of the New York Yankees, Dan Ontiveros of the Kansas City Royals and Scott Meaney of the Cleveland Indians. All have high-ranking scouting positions with their organizations.

It’s possible that there are other candidates or more will emerge. But these are the names being talked about in baseball circles at the moment.

Schilz ranked No. 2 in the Phillies’ amateur scouting staff behind Almaraz. He joined the club in the fall of 2016 after 12 years with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was elevated to assistant scouting director in the fall of 2017.

Koplove is an interesting candidate. He is a Philadelphia native who pitched at Chestnut Hill Academy and the University of Delaware before spending parts of seven seasons in the majors with Arizona and Cleveland. He earned a World Series ring with the Diamondbacks in 2001.

Koplove spent six seasons on the scouting staff of the Anaheim Angels before joining his hometown team as a special assignment scout prior to the 2018 season.

Conner is a longtime Phillies scout who has risen to the role of national scouting coordinator. He was influential in identifying Cole Hamels as having first-round potential and staying on the pitcher after he broke his left arm the summer after his sophomore year.

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