NEW YORK – He didn’t break any furniture or throw any chairs around the clubhouse, but Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg sent a pointed message to his players in a team meeting before Friday night’s game against the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Sandberg spoke only briefly to the team. His message: Today’s a new day, but what happened the last four days against the Toronto Blue Jays was unacceptable. The Phils lost four times to the Jays by a combined score of 31-11. According to a source, Sandberg, a taskmaster and stickler for fundamentals and attitude, was irked by his team’s sloppy play and the way it went about its business against Toronto.
Sandberg confirmed that he spoke to his team, but had no further comment.
After Sandberg got a few things off his chest, the players continued the conversation in the closed clubhouse for about 10 minutes. One participant described it as “a good talk.”
Will the talk make a difference for the Phillies, who entered Friday night in last place in the NL East with a record of 15-18?
Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were all drafted and developed by the Phillies. They came to the majors and became the best first baseman, shortstop and second baseman in franchise history.
And, of course, they were a huge part of the core of the team that won the 2008 World Series.
Time moves on and so do great players.
Rollins was traded in December 2014 as the team began a rebuild. Utley was traded in August 2015. On Sunday, Howard, the last piece from that championship season, will play his last game with the Phillies.
Rollins took some time Saturday to pass along some thoughts on his friend’s time in red pinstripes.
“When Ryan first arrived in Philadelphia, he was merely filling in for Jim Thome in the eyes of many, but he did not let that opportunity to shine pass him by,” Rollins wrote. “He quickly became feared as he won Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive years and reached 200 home runs quicker than anyone in the history of the game. He loved the pressure and wanted to be the man at the plate when the game mattered most.”
The Phillies won five division titles from 2007 to 2011. Howard led the majors in homers twice and RBIs three times.
“During our run, we leaned on him many times for big hits and clutch home runs and he found ways to deliver,” Rollins said. “Ryan never stopped working to better himself and his craft, whether it was getting to the field early for extra defensive work or finding that sweet home run stroke. Although he hit a lot of them, he was more than just a power hitter -- he was a great teammate.
“We all hoped to bring more than one championship to Philadelphia, but without Ryan that one may not have been possible. So, many thanks to 'Big Piece' for being such a big piece of the best years of my career in the City of Brotherly Love!”
In his second-to-last game in a Phillies uniform, Ryan Howard will man first base and bat fifth against the Mets on Saturday afternoon (1:05/FOX).
Howard went 1 for 4 Friday night with a double. The first baseman has three home runs and five RBI in 44 at-bats against the Mets this season.
Andres Blanco takes Freddy Galvis’ starting spot at shortstop and bats second. Galvis left Friday night's game with hamstring tightness. Blanco has not made a start since Sept. 16, but is batting .294 against the Mets this year.
Cameron Rupp catches and bats sixth for the second day in a row. Rupp went 2 for 3 on Friday night with an RBI. Jimmy Paredes and Aaron Altherr follow Rupp in the lineup and man the corners in the outfield.
Here's the Phillies' full lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Andres Blanco, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Jimmy Paredes, LF
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Phil Klein, P
And the Mets lineup:
1. Jose Reyes, 3B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Yoenis Cespedes, LF
4. Curtis Granderson, CF
5. Jay Bruce, RF
6. T.J. Rivera, 2B
7. James Loney, 1B
8. Travis d'Arnaud, C
9. Bartolo Colon, P