Hector Neris spent Friday’s off-day talking on the phone to manager Gabe Kapler, but the conversation did not help the reliever understand why the Atlanta Braves were upset about the amount of time it took Neris to enter Thursday night’s game.
Neris, for the second-time in a week, stayed in the bullpen and continued to throw a series of pitches after Kapler called for him to come to the mound. In the previous series in New York, the delay was long enough that an umpire reached the bullpen door to hurry Neris. On Thursday, the umpire made it to the warning track.
The Braves were peeved, and manager Brian Snitker said “that’s probably going to need to be addressed in the future with the league.” Before Kapler called for Neris, J.T. Realmuto visited the mound to buy more time for Neris to get ready. But the pitcher was in no rush once Kapler finally got to the mound.
“I’m just trying to get everything ready to go into the game,” Neris said. “If I’m walking to the mound, he can be mad at that. Everyone here can be mad at that if I’m on the field and do something wrong to the game. But what I’m doing, it doesn't affect the game. I’m just preparing my body.”
Kapler said before Saturday’s game that Neris has a “ritual and routine” that he performs to prepare for the ninth inning. The Phillies want Neris to come to the mound “as the most confident version of himself,” Kapler said.
Neris said his ritual or routine -- which seems to be five quick pitches before he enters -- is nothing new, but the timing of it -- right when Kapler calls for him -- might be.