Gabe Kapler spent 12 days away before returning Friday afternoon to his office at Citizens Bank Park, where his days behind his standing desk in the bowels of the ballpark could be numbered.
He was joined on the road by the Phillies decision makers -- owner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, and general manager Matt Klentak -- but came home without clarity about his status as manager for 2020.
Kapler said, “We haven’t had any conversations about anything beyond the work that we are doing right now.”
That work ends Sunday. Kapler is under contract for 2020, but his fate is far from certain.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about right now. It’s not something I’m worried about and haven’t had any conversations about it,” Kapler said before Friday’s series opener with Miami. “Look forward to managing the Phillies for as long as I can, and I am going to be thinking about doing a good job for every day I have that opportunity.”
The Phillies are not expected to make a judgment on Kapler until after Sunday’s season finale. At the least, he seems safe for the weekend. Kapler, in two seasons as manager, entered Friday night with a 159-162 record. His teams have twice missed the playoffs by fading in the second half, failing to show the “fight” that Kapler often lauds.
“The only thing I think about is managing tonight’s baseball game and as long as I possibly can," Kapler said. "I love being the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and will do it as long as I can and do as good a job as I can in that role for every day I have that opportunity.”
The manager has faced challenges this season. His team, especially the bullpen, had a slew of injuries. The roster, which was built by Klentak, was flawed. And the lineup, expected to be one of the most potent in baseball, was just average. The Phillies invested nearly a half-billion dollars in their roster this winter, yet they are playing the final weekend to just stay over .500. In a few days, it will be known what that means for the manager’s future
“I couldn’t mean it any more authentically and openly. I am wired to focus on the task at hand, and the task at hand is managing tonight’s baseball game for the Philadelphia Phillies against the Miami Marlins and making sure all of our players are put in the best possible positions to succeed,” Kapler said. “I’ve been doing that all day today. I’ll be doing it all night and into tomorrow as well.”
Catcher J.T. Realmuto underwent minor knee surgery on Friday and joined the team in the clubhouse before the game. ... Infielder Jean Segura has a sprained right ankle and is likely to miss the final three games of the season. ... Starter Zach Eflin will face left-hander Caleb Smith on Saturday, and the Phillies will use a cast of relievers on Sunday against right-hander Sandy Alcantara.