MLB All-Star Game

Anyone see my helmet? J.T. Realmuto has a memorable All-Star experience

Anyone see my helmet? J.T. Realmuto has a memorable All-Star experience

CLEVELAND — J.T. Realmuto didn’t get a hit.

His team didn’t win.

But the Phillies catcher still had a memorable experience at the All-Star Game all because he had to scramble for an important piece of equipment.

Realmuto got two at-bats as the National League’s designated hitter Tuesday night. He went to the plate both times wearing a batting helmet borrowed from St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong.

“We had to improvise,” Realmuto said with a laugh after the American League's 4-3 win.

Realmuto arrived in the dugout moments before the first pitch and looked to stash his batting gloves in his helmet.

Only problem was his helmet wasn’t in the rack.

“I didn’t know what was going on so I asked,” he said. “They looked in all my bags and everything and they’re like, ‘I guess the equipment guy forgot to pack it in your bag.’ “

Realmuto’s catcher’s helmet did make it to Cleveland.

“I took the Cardinals sticker off DeJong’s helmet and put our P on it,” Realmuto said with a laugh.

He popped out in his first at-bat in the seventh inning.

The next inning he found himself in the on-deck circle with two outs. Only problem was DeJong was on base, wearing his helmet. So Realmuto wore Yasmani Grandal’s Milwaukee Brewers helmet into the on-deck circle. He did not bat in that inning because the American League got the third out with him in the on-deck circle.

That might have been a blessing because Grandal’s helmet “was huge,” and might have fallen off if Realmuto had to bat in that inning.

Realmuto ended up leading off the ninth in a one-run game. He had to face New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman throwing near-triple-digit gas. He struck out on three pitches, the last one 99 mph. 

“That wasn’t fun,” Realmuto said. “I wish I would have done a little better and fouled a couple off.”

Realmuto has carried a heavy load for the Phillies this season so the plan was for him not to get any time behind the plate. He knew he was going to serve as the DH for the second half of the game.

He just didn’t know he was going to do it wearing a St. Louis Cardinals batting helmet.

Realmuto and the Phillies get back to work on Friday with a big series against Washington. The Phils are in third place in the NL East, a half-game behind the Nationals and 6 ½ behind first-place Atlanta.

“We’re ready for a big second half,” Realmuto said. “We have to play better. Stay healthy, get on a roll, get yourself to playoffs and a lot of things can happen.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

J.T. Realmuto believes Phillies’ front office will improve the club before trade deadline

J.T. Realmuto believes Phillies’ front office will improve the club before trade deadline

CLEVELAND – The Phillies come back from the All-Star break on Friday and face the most important week of their season.

Three games against the Washington Nationals, the team that has erased a 10-game deficit and overtaken the Phils for second place in the National League East standings, followed by four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of baseball’s best record.

If the Phils play well in those seven games, the front office could roll up its sleeves and get the team some help before the trade deadline.

If the Phils continue their nearly six-week flop, the front office could decide it’s not worth giving up young talent for a long-shot playoff run this season.

J.T. Realmuto believes the front office will be busy.

“I would be shocked if our front office didn’t believe we could make a run,” he said at All-Star Game festivities Monday. “I feel like with the team we have, if our front office doesn’t believe in us – I feel like the team they put together is pretty good with what we have right now even with the injuries and not performing as well as we should. I’m pretty sure they have confidence in us to go out and make a move and make us better.”

But Realmuto acknowledged that Phillies players need to do their part in the coming week or so.

“Especially the three against Washington,” he said. “Those are really important. We’re neck and neck with them for second place. We definitely need to create some distance and also gain some ground with Atlanta, so that’s a big series for us.

“The Dodgers coming in after what they did to us (three-game sweep) in L.A., obviously that will be an important series just to see how we match up with the best in the National League right now.”

The Phillies entered June leading the NL East by 3 games. They have plummeted to third place at the All-Star break, 6 ½ games behind the first-place Braves.

Injuries and underperformance have hit the Phillies hard. The underperformance can be seen on the All-Star roster. Just one Phillie. Who saw that coming when the team left Clearwater and got off to that hot start?

“There are teams here with a lot worse record than we have who have two or three all-stars,” Realmuto said. “Rhys (Hoskins) could be here, but first base is such a tough position. It doesn’t always match up, but I feel there’s definitely a lot of guys that can play better, including me, so there’s a little correlation to how we’re playing as a team.

“There are a lot of ways we can improve. We want to be at the top of the standings, there’s no doubt about that, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

The front office is currently weighing the possibility of adding starting pitching help, bullpen help and a hitter. Phillies officials have checked in with every team that might be a seller.

Starting pitching might be the Phils’ biggest need. Even with Aaron Nola’s recent hot streak, the staff has been plagued by inconsistency and now struggling Jake Arrieta has a bone spur in his elbow that could impact his second-half availability.

“I feel like we can fill our (starting pitching) question mark just by pitching better,” Realmuto said. “We haven’t pitched to our abilities. I feel like the guys we have can get the job done, we just haven’t gotten there yet. We have a lot of work to do and we’ve got to get better on the mound, there’s no doubt about that. Not just starting pitching. We’ve got to do better in the bullpen and we’ve got to do better in the lineup.

“Just as a whole, we’ve got to do better.”

Realmuto, 28, arrives at his second straight All-Star Game riding a hot streak. The Phillies catcher is hitting .406 (13 for 32) with four doubles, six RBIs and seven runs scored in his last eight games. He played a big role in the Phillies’ winning two of three against the Mets over the weekend.

Now, halfway through his first season with the Phils, he gets to represent the team in Cleveland.

"It's an honor," he said.

He wouldn’t mind doing it again in future seasons. He has enjoyed his first season with the Phils and is open to signing a contract extension before he becomes a free agent after next season. Phillies management has made signing Realmuto a priority and though both sides like to keep things quite, you can bet they’ve explored extending the relationship.

“Everything I’ve experienced in Philadelphia has been awesome so I wouldn’t be opposed to spending the rest of my career there,” he said. “The timing doesn’t really matter for me. I just show up and play baseball every day. If an extension comes, it comes, whether it be tomorrow or in the off-season or next July, the timing doesn’t matter too much.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Carlos Santana’s return to Cleveland has been a smashing success

Carlos Santana’s return to Cleveland has been a smashing success

CLEVELAND — Carlos Santana’s last act in Philadelphia was to smash up a couple of big-screen televisions.

Back in his comfort zone of Cleveland, he is simply smashing baseballs.

“Last year was hard because it was difficult for me to play with a new team, new friends, and a new manager,” he said on Monday, the eve of his first All-Star Game. “I played with Cleveland for a long time and it was tough for me. It was a little bit to figure out and I was affected. But I’m happy to come back.”

The Phillies signed Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract before the 2018 season. He hit just .229 with 24 homers, 86 RBIs and a .766 OPS.

The Phils traded him to Seattle in the offseason to open first base for Rhys Hoskins. The Mariners subsequently peddled him to Cleveland, where he played his first eight seasons.

Back with the Indians, Santana is on his way to a career year at age 33. He is hitting .297 with 19 homers, 52 RBIs and a .958 OPS.

“Everyone knows I had power hitting,” he said. “I changed a couple things in the offseason. That helped me a lot. I’m hitting the ball up the middle.”

Santana said he got pull-happy in Philadelphia.

“The Philly stadium is small,” he said. “Right field is like 320 (feet). I wanted to hit to the right side. I wanted to pull. Now, I’m back to trying to hit the ball up the middle.”

Though he struggled in some areas, Santana played in all but one game for the Phillies last season. Even down the stretch, when some players checked out, he posted every night, often out of position at third base. 

Santana did not see the same dedication from some of his teammates and the news came out in March that he ended his stay in Philadelphia by smashing a couple of TVs in a backroom of the clubhouse. He was upset that some players were spending too much time in there playing video games while he and the other eight guys on the field were trying to win a ballgame, often unsuccessfully in September.

“It’s something that happened,” Santana said. “We were fighting with Atlanta and we had lost eight-straight games and I was a little frustrated with that. Everyone knows that that’s not my personality.”

Santana smashed the TVs on the penultimate day of the season. Why didn’t he express his frustration sooner? 

“I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t control it.

“I don’t want to talk about that because it’s in the past. I want to stay with my teammates and I’m so happy here in Cleveland. It’s in the past and I don’t want to talk too much.

“I like Philly. It was a great season. The fans knew baseball. Everything was positive.”

Well, not everything. 

But all is good now for Carlos Santana.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies