Brian Snitker had seen this show before, and he did not like the rerun any more than the initial showing. With his team down by a run in the top of the eighth inning Thursday night, the Atlanta Braves manager watched as Phillies manager Gabe Kapler executed what had to be one of the longest pitching changes in baseball history.
With two outs and two men on base, Kapler wanted Hector Neris to face Dansby Swanson, but it was clear that the Phillies’ closer was not ready to come into the game. First, Kapler instructed catcher J.T. Realmuto to go to the mound and talk with Jose Alvarez, who had started the inning.
Home-plate umpire Roberto Ortiz went to the mound to break up the conversation and when he finally returned to home plate for play to resume, Kapler finally came out of the dugout to make a double switch that also sent Sean Rodriguez to left field.
Ortiz immediately waved for Neris, but the Phillies’ closer kept throwing warmup pitches. In fact, he threw five additional tosses before finally coming out of the bullpen as second-base umpire Lance Barksdale started toward the outfield to get the reliever.
Snitker was asked whether it reminded him of last season, when Kapler failed to have reliever Hoby Milner up and ready when he made a pitching change during the second game of the season between the teams in Atlanta.
“Well, yeah, when the umpire has to go all the way out to the bullpen, it was … I don’t know,” a perplexed Snitker said. “The guy just keeps throwing. They go out and get him and he keeps throwing. That’s probably going to need to be addressed in the future with the league.”
Snitker actually argued the delayed pitching change last season with umpire Jerry Layne, but he was not as upset Thursday night, even after his team’s 9-5 loss that left the Braves with a split of the four-game series at Citizens Bank Park.
Last year, Layne filed a report with the league about the incident. Snitker said he had no plans to file a complaint with the commissioner’s office.
“No. That’s not my position,” he said. “They see everything. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. It was just a situation where it was an issue and it shouldn’t be. Guys are told to come in and they don’t come in and they just keep throwing, there needs to be a consequence for that I think.”