Another Phillie appears to be upset with manager Ryne Sandberg and this one isn’t a fifth starter with a bloated ERA, a stumbling outfielder or a headstrong rookie.
This one is the highest-paid athlete in Philadelphia sports history and a former World Series MVP.
Cole Hamels appeared none too happy with Sandberg’s decision to remove him from Tuesday night's game after giving up a game-tying home run (on his 84th pitch) to lead off the eighth inning.
After the game, Hamels employed some textbook passive aggressiveness in confirming what his body language told everybody in the ballpark as he left the mound: He was perturbed that Sandberg did not let him stay in the game.
“Um, I just think it was a good game and we were able to win,” said Hamels as he pointedly dodged a question about why he was so visibly upset upon leaving the game.
Hamels continued to speak to reporters.
A moment later, a reporter asked for clarification on the answer to a previous question.
The reporter asked: Were you mad at yourself or at the manager for taking you out?
Once again, Hamels issued a calculated non-answer.
“It was a good game that we won today,” Hamels said. “See you guys.”
Having made his point with the subtlety of a train wreck, Hamels walked through a pack of reporters, headed for his locker, then to the showers.
Hamels was quite composed as he spoke with reporters. A short while earlier, he was clearly angry when Sandberg popped from the dugout to remove him from the game. Hamels looked around in disgust as Sandberg made his way to the mound. As Sandberg reached the mound, Hamels started walking toward the dugout and executed an on-the-fly handoff that would have made Norm Van Brocklin -- and maybe Kyle Kendrick -- proud.
It is customary for a pitcher to wait for the manager and hand him the ball upon leaving a game. Hamels is the second Phillies pitcher to violate this protocol in less than two weeks. Kendrick did it two weeks earlier in San Francisco and the next day apologized for what he called “showing up” Sandberg.
Sandberg did not appear bothered by Hamels' actions, but the manager is famously stoic.
“You know what, I had given him a verbal,” Sandberg said. “He knew he was out there hitter by hitter.”
Sandberg was asked if he knew whether Hamels was angry with himself or angry about being taken out.
“I haven’t talked to him yet,” Sandberg said.
If past practice means anything, Sandberg will likely speak with Hamels on Wednesday. This isn't the first time a player has, through word or action, been critical of the manager. This past weekend, outfielder Domonic Brown and pitcher David Buchanan made comments that were interpreted as being critical of the manager's decisions. And then there was the disrespect that Kendrick showed the manager in San Francisco. All three players were spoken to by the manager the next day.
Given the frequency of these events, it is reasonable to wonder if Sandberg has a control issue in his clubhouse.
Either that or his pitchers are practicing to run the wishbone offense.
Despite Hamels' thinly veiled protest, the manager was completely in his right to take the pitcher out of the game. Hamels had cruised through the first six innings and taken a 3-0 lead into the seventh. The Nats used four singles and a walk to cut the Phils' lead to 3-2 in that inning. Despite Hamels' low pitch count, it was clear the Nationals were getting better swings on the left-hander and Asdrubal Cabrera’s homer leading off the eighth was more of the same.
The Phillies built their lead with extra-base pop. Freddy Galvis followed a Grady Sizemore triple with a homer off Gio Gonzalez in the fifth and Darin Ruf pushed the lead to 3-0 with a solo homer in the sixth.
Ken Giles blew away three hitters to keep the game tied after Hamels exited, and the Phillies manufactured an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth to win it.
It was a good win for the Phillies.
Just ask Cole Hamels what was eating at him and he’ll tell you.