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Before hiring Gabe Kapler, Phillies consulted MLB on his role in Nick Francona controversy

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Before hiring Gabe Kapler, Phillies consulted MLB on his role in Nick Francona controversy

New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was in the news earlier this year when Yahoo! Sports reported that Major League Baseball was investigating whether the Los Angeles Dodgers had discriminated against an employee.

That employee was Nick Francona, son of current Cleveland Indians manager and former Phillies manager Terry Francona. Nick Francona was an assistant director of player development for the Dodgers. Kapler was his boss.

Francona, a Penn graduate and Afghanistan war veteran, had his contract terminated by the Dodgers in 2016. He made charges of discrimination against the Dodgers and Kapler.

The Phillies carefully investigated the matter before hiring Kapler.

"We were aware of the allegations," general manager Matt Klentak said. "It was public. It was on the internet. So we went into this knowing that something was out there, and we had a variety of conversations, I did and other people with the Phillies did, talking with top level executives with the Dodgers, with executives of Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball has asked that we not comment on the details, but we felt comfortable moving forward (with the hiring) and they've asked that we defer any future questions to the league office."

Kapler declined to comment on specifics of the matter.

"I totally understand why you’re asking the questions," he said at Thursday's introductory news conference (more from that here). "Per Major League Baseball, it’s not something we can address specifically. I will say this: I’ve known the Francona family for a long time and have a tremendous amount of respect for all of them, particularly Terry Francona, who was my manager for several years in Boston. I still hold him in the highest regard and think of him as a mentor.

"But as it relates to this specific question and this specific situation, per MLB, it’s not something that we can address."

Nick Francona currently works for the New York Mets.

Klentak has a relationship with Nick Francona. He was an assistant general manager with the Angels when Francona began his career in baseball.

"I was part of the group with the Angels that hired him there four years ago," Klentak said. "I spent a year working with him. I have a ton of respect for Nick Francona as a person, as a colleague, as a military veteran, and I think the important thing is that we don’t have to choose sides in this.

"I think we can be extremely excited and confident in the future of the Phillies and Gabe Kapler's presence on our staff, while at the same time fully respecting and supporting Nick Francona, who is a great kid, and I think that's an important message."

MLB Notes: Terry Francona out of hospital after heart procedure

MLB Notes: Terry Francona out of hospital after heart procedure

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona is resting at home following a heart procedure and four-day hospital stay.

Francona was released from the Cleveland Clinic on Friday night, one day after undergoing a cardiac ablation for an irregular heartbeat. Francona returned to his downtown residence during the Indians' 11-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.

The 58-year-old Francona had been experiencing dizziness and an accelerated heart rate over the last month. Following an array of tests, he was admitted to the hospital Tuesday after doctors detected abnormal readings from a heart monitor he had been wearing for several weeks.

Doctors hope Francona's noninvasive surgery will correct the arrhythmia, which left untreated could lead to blood clots, heart failure or stroke. They want him to his ease his normal routine, so Francona will skip next week's All-Star Game in Miami.

Bench coach Brad Mills, who has been filling in for Francona, will manage the AL team with an assist from the Indians' other coaches and Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, who worked on Francona's staff in Cleveland and is a close friend.

Francona is expected to rejoin the Indians and assume his usual duties July 14 when the team opens a three-game series in Oakland (see full story).

Pitch clock, limits on mound visits looming for MLB in 2018
NEW YORK -- Count CC Sabathia as a fan who wants to speed up baseball games. When the six-time All-Star tunes in at home, he quickly changes the channel.

"It's slow. It's boring," the New York Yankees pitcher said. "Man, it's so hard to watch if you have no interest in it."

The average time of a nine-inning game this season is a record 3 hours, 5 minutes -- up from an even 3 hours last year and 2:56 in 2015. Management proposed three changes last offseason the union didn't accept, and MLB has the right to start them next year without player approval: restricting catchers to one trip to the mound per pitcher each inning, employing a 20-second pitch clock and raising the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level -- at the top of the kneecap.

Union head Tony Clark has said information was being gathered from players and he expects to discuss the proposals with management this summer.

"I don't like the fact of somebody else telling me when I can go out and when I can't go out, but I understand the point," said Washington catcher Matt Wieters, a four-time All-Star. "There actually is an advantage to catchers and pitchers who can get on the same page without having to take the mound visit. So I like that side of it, of both people will have to put their homework in as opposed to one kind of walking the other one through the game."

The 20-second clock is now in its third season in the high minors. It would reset when a pitcher steps off under MLB's proposal last offseason, but now the league is considering asking that it merely stop and resume. If a pitch isn't thrown within 20 seconds, a ball would be called. If the hitter isn't in the batter's box with 5 seconds remaining, a strike would be called.

Catchers head to the mound for a variety of reasons: discussing what pitch to throw, giving a pitcher a breather during a difficult inning or switching signals in an era where many are paranoid about opponents scrutinizing high-definition video to steal signs (see full story).

MLB Notes: Terry Francona has heart procedure, won't coach All-Star Game

MLB Notes: Terry Francona has heart procedure, won't coach All-Star Game

CLEVELAND -- Terry Francona's heart, of all things, has kept him away from baseball.

Cleveland's passionate and driven manager underwent a procedure Thursday to correct an irregular heartbeat that sidelined him for a few games and will prevent him from managing in the All-Star Game next week.

The 58-year-old Francona had been experiencing dizziness, fatigue and a rapid heart rate for several weeks. He had a cardiac ablation at the Cleveland Clinic.

The Indians said Friday that Francona is resting comfortably. He is expected to be discharged in a "day or two" and resume managing after the All-Star break. Cleveland begins its unofficial second half of the season July 14 in Oakland to start a six-game trip.

Francona, who twice left in the middle of games last month after falling ill, has been hospitalized and undergoing tests since Tuesday. He was admitted after doctors detected an arrhythmia from a monitor he has been wearing for several weeks.

However, his health will prevent him from managing the American League squad in Miami next week. Indians bench coach Brad Mills, who has been filling in while Francona has been ill, will handle the AL team, which includes five Indians players. Mills will be assisted by Cleveland's staff and Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, who previously worked for the Indians.

Francona earned the opportunity to manage the All-Star team after guiding Cleveland to the World Series last season, the team's first since 1997 (see full story).

Cano, Archer, Osuna among replacement All-Stars
NEW YORK -- Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano, Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer and Toronto reliever Roberto Osuna are among seven replacement players selected for Tuesday's All-Star Game in Miami.

Houston reliever Chris Devenski, Minnesota reliever Brandon Kintzler and Detroit outfielder Justin Upton also were added to the AL roster Friday. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood was added to the NL All-Stars.

Three of the original All-Stars are on the disabled list and won't be active for the game: Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout, New York Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro and Houston pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

Four pitchers on the All-Star rosters won't be active because they are scheduled to start Sunday: the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw, Texas' Yu Darvish, Cleveland's Corey Kluber and Detroit's Michael Fulmer.