Phillies

Vince Velasquez is ticked off about being assigned to Phillies' bullpen ... wait, no he's not

Vince Velasquez is ticked off about being assigned to Phillies' bullpen ... wait, no he's not

MILWAUKEE — Vince Velasquez did his best Emily Litella impersonation Friday.

You remember the old Gilda Radner Saturday Night Live skit, right?

Never mind!

(If you don’t remember it, or are too young to, break out the ol’ Googler and type in the words ‘Emily Litella violins.’ Real humor. Still hilarious after all these years.)

Anyway, the Phillies activated Velasquez from the injured list and assigned him to the bullpen before Friday night’s game against the Brewers.

Three hours before the game, Velasquez was asked for comment about the move. He clearly was not pleased, saying he did not believe he should have lost his spot in the starting rotation after a couple of poor starts and a brief trip to the IL.

“I only had two bad starts,” Velasquez said. “I guess if they were going to come down to that decision and that I didn’t do my job in those two starts, it sucks. There’s still a lot of room for improvement. I started out pretty hot and for them to decide after two starts that I should be in the bullpen is kind of a bummer.”

Velasquez also seemed miffed with the way the message was delivered to him.

“Just pretty much, ‘You’re activated. Welcome back. You’re going to sit in the bullpen,’“ he said.

He added that he would like to have gotten more clarity on his role because he still hoped to fill a starter’s role on Tuesday — and would be disappointed if he didn’t.

About an hour after venting to reporters in the clubhouse, Velasquez sought out the same reporters in the dugout and asked if he could clarify his remarks.

Enter Emily Litella.

Never mind!

The pitcher had just met with manager Gabe Kapler and hashed out a few things. He felt better now.

“Kap and I, we're kind of on the same page now,” Velasquez said. “Got some things off my shoulder and kind of just know what my role is now. [Previously], I didn't know. Everything was kind of up in the air. I was clueless. I didn't know what was going on. I was just kind of guessing and now it seemed like we got on the same page in general.”

Depending on what happens this weekend in Milwaukee, Velasquez could still end up starting Tuesday. Or Nick Pivetta could get the nod.

In his second meeting with reporters, Velasquez amended his remarks and said he would not be disappointed if he did not start Tuesday.

“We kind of squashed that,” he said. “Again, I've done relieving before. I've done both so I know what it entails. I'm actually pretty all right with it at this point.”

Going with Pivetta on Tuesday could be read as an indication that the team is beginning to transition Velasquez to the bullpen. The idea has been talked about for a couple of years and it seems as if the time has come. Kapler seems intrigued by the idea and said he would not hesitate to use Velasquez’s power arm in one-to-two-inning bursts this weekend, even in high-leverage situations.

“Sometimes it’s, ‘Let’s find out,’“ Kapler said. “These guys are not made of glass. They’re strong athletes. Sometimes you just try to win the game with the best pieces you have.”

Kapler stressed that there was still an unknown in using Velasquez out of the ‘pen — and that’s how will his body bounce back.

Kapler met with reporters before Velasquez spoke with reporters Friday. The manager’s telling of the details of informing Velasquez of the move to the bullpen was different than the pitcher’s.

“He was especially comfortable with the idea last night,” Kapler said during his meeting with reporters shortly after the clubhouse opened Friday afternoon. "[Pitching coach] Chris Young and I had a little text message conversation with him where he seemed excited when we told him he was officially going to be activated today and available, and I had an additional conversation with him today to kind of go through the possibilities again. He seems not just excited but on board. I don’t think we’re ever going to get to that place where he feels ‘I’m not still potentially a starting pitcher.’ However, he was a team player, to say the least.”

OK.

It took a little hissing and moaning from Velasquez and another meeting with the skipper, but eventually the pitcher got on board with the plan.

Tune in to Weekend Update for Emily Litella’s take on the matter.

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Which of these Phillies batting orders do you like better?

Which of these Phillies batting orders do you like better?

The Phillies have 32 spring training games to figure out which infield alignment makes the most sense, who the opening day centerfielder will be and how the batting order shakes out. 

On yesterday’s Phillies Talk podcast, Ricky Bottalico and I discussed how much batting order flexibility the addition of Didi Gregorius gives Joe Girardi. Gregorius can really bat anywhere between first and fifth. 

This was Ricky’s batting order:

  1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
  2. Didi Gregorius, SS (L)
  3. Bryce Harper, RF (L)
  4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
  5. J.T. Realmuto, C
  6. Jean Segura, 2B
  7. Scott Kingery, 3B
  8. Adam Haseley, CF (L)

And here was mine:

  1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
  2. Bryce Harper, RF (L)
  3. J.T. Realmuto, C
  4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
  5. Didi Gregorius, SS (L)
  6. Jean Segura, 2B
  7. Scott Kingery, 3B
  8. Adam Haseley, CF (L)

We will have to wait and see how much the new three-batter rule for relievers affects lineup construction, if at all. It could prompt managers to focus more on splitting up their lefties, which was the idea behind my splitting up Harper and Didi. 

Another option the Phils could go with is McCutchen and Segura at the top, where they were early last season. Forgotten in the totality of Segura’s disappointing first season as a Phillie is that he was hitting .330 in mid-May and his production didn’t crater until right around the time he didn’t hustle out the ball in San Diego, leading to the rundown in which McCutchen tore his ACL. Segura spoke this week about how much that ordeal weighed on him last summer. 

What’s your ideal Phillies batting order?

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Bryce Harper's headband collection continues to grow with latest design for his son

Bryce Harper's headband collection continues to grow with latest design for his son

Since his time in Philadelphia began just shy of one year ago, Bryce Harper has embraced the city with open arms from the moment he arrived.

One thing that Harper is known for, outside of crushing dingers and having a monster arm in right field, is his vast headband collection that was seen throughout the season.

It’s something that he carried over from his time in Washington, but let’s be honest — the ones that he has worn here have been way cooler.

Who can forget the iconic Phanatic one, that had just about every fan running to the closest team store or taking to their phones to place an order for their own.


(Image credit: USA Today Images)

Harper truly took a liking to the Phanatic (who wouldn’t?) and even embraced the mascot via socks and cleats. Notice the details in the laces? They’re fuzzy. Seriously, who designed those? Give that person a raise.



(Credit for Images: USA Today Images)

And let’s just hope the whole Phanatic ordeal gets settled before the start of the season, so Harper can continue repping his biggest supporter.

Let’s get back to the main reason for this post — headbands.

There were many other ways he sported his new team last season, including a headband in army green, one to match the Phillies’ home uniforms and even one with stars.



(Credit for images: USA Today Images)

His latest one though, looks to be a custom design from JunkBrands.com. It’s personalized with Harper’s number but more importantly, his son’s name, Krew.


(Image credit: John Clark/Twitter)

We’re not sure how Harper is going to top last year’s lineup … but he’s off to a pretty great start.

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Realmuto feeling ‘blessed’ as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies