MIAMI -- Cesar Hernandez waited Sunday afternoon at home plate to thank Rhys Hoskins after he hit a two-run homer in an eventual 3-2 loss. He thanked him again a few minutes later when they walked to the infield in the bottom of the sixth inning at Marlins Park.
Hernandez drove a ball off the right-field wall in the sixth inning, but failed to hustle out of the box. He thought he homered. Instead, he had to settle for a two-out single. A batter later, Hoskins made up Hernandez’s mistake by driving him in with a homer. He had plenty to be thankful for.
“If he hadn’t hit the home run, it would have made me look even worse,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez said the play is something that “just shouldn’t happen.” Jay Bruce talked to him in the dugout after Hoskins’ homer. So did Charlie Manuel. But Gabe Kapler did not lift Hernandez from the game.
“Totally, totally unacceptable base-running play,” Kapler said. “It was addressed on the bench. I had a conversation with Cesar after the game. He understands it's unacceptable. There's no excuse for it. We have some strong veteran leaders in the clubhouse who will address it as well.”
A similar incident happened last week in Atlanta when the first-place Braves subbed Ronald Acuna, one of their best hitters, after he failed to run out a ball he thought was a homer and had to settle for a single. The Phillies, a day after they talked about Nick Pivetta needing to be accountable, went a different route.
“I think there’s a ton of different ways to do that,” Hoskins said. “Obviously one is from the manager. Sure, he can do that. Cesar doesn’t need to be talked to. I don’t think he’s someone that doesn’t play the game the right way. He just had a little brain fart. Had a little lapse in judgment. Thank goodness it didn’t hurt us. I didn’t say anything to him on the field. He came up to me. That type of player knows. And I think that in itself shows everybody else, that’s what being accountable is, takes it on the wrist, says he’s sorry and my bet is that it doesn’t happen again.”
Sunday was not the first time the Phillies failed to hustle. Jean Segura failed to run hard earlier this season, but was not benched. Maikel Franco was benched in July after not running hard on a grounder.
If the Phillies removed Hernandez on Sunday, they would have lost their leadoff hitter in a game that felt like they needed to win. They are working with a limited bench and a unit that has underperformed in recent weeks. Removing Hernandez would not increase the team’s chances to win Sunday, but it would have been one way to hold him accountable. The Phillies chose another way and Hernandez was thankful.
“I think it’s really important that we bust our (butts) out of the batter’s box,” Kapler said. “We’re not sure if the ball is going to go out of the ballpark. It’s really important that we give every ounce of energy on that play. Even at the expense of making a bang-bang play at second base. We need a single to score that run. Obviously Rhys was able to bail us all out. He hit a big home run for us. But we have to find a way to get to second base on that play.”