Payback’s a boooooo! Phillies fans give it right back to Sean Rodriguez

Payback’s a boooooo! Phillies fans give it right back to Sean Rodriguez

A day after hitting a game-winning home run in the 11th inning, Sean Rodriguez was in the Phillies’ starting lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Ordinarily, a walk-off home run the night before would earn a player a nice ovation during pre-game introductions.

But Rodriguez was booed by fans as they settled into their seats before the first pitch.

He was booed again before his first at-bat in the second inning.

It would take a significant offense for fans to turn on a guy who won them a game the night before. Rodriguez stepped into the lion’s den when he called fans “entitled” after Monday night’s 6-5 win.

Instead of basking in the glow of his game-winning home run, Rodriguez became defensive and confrontational when a reporter attempted to ask him how good it felt hitting a home run after previously being 1 for 20 with 11 strikeouts in the month of August.

Rodriguez used the question as a launch point to fire on fans and others who have been critical of him and his place on the roster. He extended his commentary to those who have been critical of the team in general (see story).

Rodriguez called fans “entitled” and that did not sit well on the executive level of Citizens Bank Park. It never does when someone disrespects the paying customers.

Manager Gabe Kapler, whose long relationship with Rodriguez dates back to their days as teammates in Tampa Bay, said he spoke to Rodriguez about his comments on Tuesday afternoon.

“Sean's a fiery, fiery guy,” Kapler said. “He's a fiery player. And I think what he was attempting to convey was that he supports his teammates and thinks his teammates perform best when they feel that support, too.”

Kapler was asked specifically about Rodriguez’ use of the word “entitled.”

“I don't think our fans are entitled,” Kapler said. “What our fans are entitled to do is feel what they feel and express themselves accordingly.

“Let's go at it directly: Every great player in every sport that's played here in Philadelphia has gotten booed, right? Charles Barkley was here and spoke to our club not that long ago. Charles Barkley got booed. Ryan Howard got booed. Jimmy Rollins got booed. Mike Schmidt got booed. Some of the greatest athletes in Philadelphia history. It's part of playing here. And I think the best thing for all of us to do is have the thickest possible skin and not take this personally at all. It's not personal.”

Slumping Rhys Hoskins was booed after popping up with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Monday night. The popup capped an 0-for-5 night. He did not take the booing personally.

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

Hustle, good play and winning remain the ultimate boo repellent.

“Go out and do our jobs every day and do it well,” said Kapler, who was booed before managing his first game in Philadelphia in April 2018. “When we do, we're going to get cheered quite a bit. We see that. We walk off and the stadium erupts. Bryce Harper hits that home run (against the Cubs during the last homestand) and it's all anybody is talking about for several days straight.

“When we're doing our jobs, when we are playing great baseball, we're cheered. And I think that's what we should strive for always.”

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J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will participate in Tuesday’s workout before taking a flight to Phoenix for Wednesday’s salary arbitration hearing.

Realmuto is dreading the long flight, not the hearing.

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way, I’m happy.”

Realmuto is actually seeking $12.4 million. The Phillies have filed at $10 million. The arbitration panel will select one figure or the other. There is no middle ground (more details here).

Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last year, is in his third and final year of arbitration and is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. To date, the highest-paid catcher in that class was Matt Wieters, who avoided a hearing with Baltimore and made $8.275 million 2015. Catcher Mike Napoli actually made more — $9.4 million — in a negotiated settlement with the Texas Rangers in 2012, but he was in his fourth year of arbitration because of his Super-Two status with the Anaheim Angels in 2009.

So, no matter how the arbitration panel rules, Realmuto’s 2020 salary will be a record for an arbitration-eligible catcher.

Once Realmuto’s 2020 salary is established, the Phillies will turn their attention to negotiating a long-term contract extension with him. Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. 

The Phillies would like to get a deal done by opening day to avoid any potential distractions. Would Realmuto negotiate during the season?

“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Realmuto said. “I’ll talk with my agent and we’ll communicate with Matt (Klentak, the general manager) and let him know.”

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Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Joe Girardi officially opened his first Phillies spring training camp by telling the players to give him their hearts.

“He knows if he can get our heart, he’ll get our best on the field,” J.T. Realmuto said.

Both Girardi and managing partner John Middleton stressed that the goal was to play deep into October. The Phillies have not been to the postseason since 2011.

Middleton reminded the players of the passion that Philadelphia fans have and urged them to give back to the fans by playing the game hard and respecting it.

Girardi roamed the fields of Carpenter Complex during the workout. He lightened the mood at the end of a base-running drill by asking a group of players, including Jean Segura, to show off their home run trots.

“Just to have some fun,” Girardi said after the workout.

The home-run trot "drill" came with some instructions.

“Make sure you run hard before you know it's out,” he told the players. “The big thing is if you run hard to first, there is a great chance it'll be out by then. Then you don't get caught on first base or caught on second base when you should be a base ahead. Just run hard.”

Phillies pitchers will begin throwing live batting practice during Tuesday’s workout.

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