Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

NEW YORK — Jake Arrieta slammed the shelf above his locker at Citi Field, still peeved moments after speaking with reporters.

Arrieta pitched relatively well in the Phillies' 5-1 loss to the Mets (see observations). The source of his anger was an untimely ejection of the Phillies' best player, Bryce Harper, in the top of the fourth inning, combined with an overall "flat" performance from the Phillies' offense.

The 33-year-old former Cy Young winner didn't mince words. He didn't rush to defend Harper or belabor the quick hook of home plate umpire Mark Carlson, who tossed Harper for arguing balls and strikes in the Phillies' dugout.

"He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there. 

"We were flat from start to finish. Two-hour delay, it doesn't matter. We have to be ready to play. We weren't and it showed.

"It's troubling. I'm out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me and they weren't."

Harper was upset during his own fourth-inning at-bat, which ended in a called strike three. One of the pitches to Harper was slightly out of the strike zone, up and away. Four batters later, Hernandez took a pitch high and out of the zone, even more so than the one to Harper. It was called a strike and Harper said something that was deemed by Carlson to be over the line. In a blink, and before any warning was issued, Harper was sent to the showers.

"He made a comment when he was in the batter's box and then he made a comment as he left the batter's box after he struck out," Carlson said after the game. "What he said warranted an automatic ejection."

From Carlson's perspective, Harper's comment was personal and involved foul language.

The ejection was the 12th of Harper's eight-year career, second-most among active players to Matt Kemp. "I'm usually zero to 100," he said. "If you look at all my ejections, it's usually pretty calm and then bam, once it happens, I try to let it out I guess."

Sometimes, a moment like that can galvanize a team, create some positive energy. It didn't on this night. After Harper's ejection, Hernandez singled, then the next 16 Phillies went down in order to end the game.

"Emotionally, it should have given us a boost but it didn't," Arrieta said. "We were flat. The dugout was flat. The defense wasn't good. We didn't throw the ball well as a staff overall. We got beat."

Arrieta would have preferred Harper showed more restraint.

"We need him in right field. I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts.

"He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.

"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."

Arrieta is clearly one of the leaders on this team and he was clearly delivering a message to Harper and his teammates Monday night. The pitcher had not yet talked with Harper before speaking to reporters.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games. At 12-10, they are tied with the Mets atop the NL East. The Phillies have played 15 of their 22 games against NL East teams and have gone 9-6.

"I said it from the start. This first month was pretty important, with all the divisional games," said Rhys Hoskins, whose 401-foot home run was the Phillies' only run. 

"I don't think anybody in here is hitting the panic button at all. We've been pretty good at bouncing back. I think all of us in here are feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow. We're fine."

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Who’s playing third base behind Aaron Nola? Yep, it’s Bryce Harper

Who’s playing third base behind Aaron Nola? Yep, it’s Bryce Harper

Two members of the Phillies' starting pitching rotation took a step forward Monday.

And Bryce Harper did his best Mike Schmidt imitation.

First, the pitching stuff.

Aaron Nola took the mound for the first time in an intrasquad game as he remained on course to potentially start the season opener a week from Friday.

And Zach Eflin, who had been slowed for several days by back spasms, was able to throw a bullpen session without any problem.

"He threw a beautiful pen," pitching coach Bryan Price said. "There were no limitations. He threw it great, aggressive."

Manager Joe Girardi said Eflin's command was "great."

Eflin is projected to slot fourth in the Phillies' rotation but he could move back a spot if he needs an extra day.

Nola, Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta will precede Eflin in the rotation. Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are battling for the final spot in the rotation. One of them will end up in a bullpen that could number 11 men out of the gate.

Rosters will be increased from 26 to 30 men for the first two weeks of the season. There is no limit on how many pitchers a team can carry.

Nola faced 14 batters and struck out one over three unstructured innings of work. He faced extra batters in the first two innings to get his pitch count up. He retired eight of the first nine batters he faced and allowed two hits and two walks in his third inning of work.

"Aaron threw well," Girardi said. "He lost his command a little in that third inning, but that's probably normal fatigue at the end in your first time out. I feel good about where Aaron is."

Nola threw 47 pitches. He should get up to about 65 in his next outing and that would put him on target to start opening night. Girardi has not officially named Nola his opening night starter because he wants to see how the next week or so of workouts unfolds. But Girardi did acknowledge that Nola could indeed be the opening night starter if all continues to go well.

Nola might still be a little behind in his work. He missed the first few days of workouts because he had come in contact with someone who had been infected by COVID-19. Though Nola was not infected, protocol called for him to stay away from the team for several days.

Several coaches and staff members were pressed into duty as defenders during the intrasquad game.

Harper got some time — six defensive outs — at third base. 

Girardi acknowledged there was risk putting the $330 million man, usually a right fielder, 90 or so feet away from the hitter. 

"I think it's important the guys have fun," Girardi said. "I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, 'You look good there.'"

Girardi said Harper had been bugging him to play third in an intrasquad game.

Finally, Girardi relented.

"All right. One inning," the manager said. "But no diving. And make sure your arm is loose."

Harper got one ball in the field, a bouncer to his left. He moved his feet nicely, fielded it cleanly and threw a strike across the diamond for the third out.

Then he styled it off the field a la Mike Schmidt.

It really was not surprising that Harper handled himself well at third. He was a catcher in college and had played third before. He moved to the outfield in pro ball.

The Phils play another intrasquad game Tuesday night. Wheeler and Velasquez will each pitch four innings.

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Phillies Talk podcast: Will a few key Phillies be ready for opening day?

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Phillies Talk podcast: Will a few key Phillies be ready for opening day?

At the midpoint of MLB's summer camp, Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman look at the opening day readiness of several key Phillies and assess the changing J.T. Realmuto situation.

• What a normal day of Phillies summer camp has looked like.

• Can a job be won in intrasquad games?

• Will Aaron Nola and Scott Kingery be ready for opening day?

• Why Joe Girardi wants to keep Jean Segura at third base even without Kingery.

• COVID-19 testing issues.

• Challenges Phillies face in bullpen.

• Has our outlook on the J.T. Realmuto contract extension situation changed?

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