Nick Pivetta emptied his locker Saturday afternoon at Marlins Park, stuffed his belongings into a red duffel bag and headed for the second time this season to the minor leagues.
The Phillies allowed themselves last winter to dream about Pivetta when they opted against upgrading their starting rotation, believing the right-hander with the powerful fastball would emerge.
Instead, Pivetta was optioned to triple A three weeks into the season and transitioned last month to the bullpen. And there he was Saturday afternoon, leaving the clubhouse with his bags after being optioned again to triple A.
“It wasn’t the easiest conversation. I think he took it hard,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I think Nick is a developing young man, and specifically I think he’s still really learning 100 percent accountability.”
What does the manager mean by that?
“Well, I think the most important thing a player can do in these situations is look themselves in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’ And that’s what I mean by accountability,” Kapler said.
Pivetta allowed five runs in Friday’s embarrassing 19-11 loss to Miami. But just one was earned after Maikel Franco botched a potential double play. Kapler talked to Pivetta about his accountability, and Pivetta said, “It’s a conversation that we had, and I’ll just keep that between us.”
“A lot of things I need to process,” Pivetta said. “I just have to get back to who I am and do what I need to do to stay in the big leagues.”
Friday night was Pivetta’s 11th relief appearance since being shuffled to the bullpen. He had a 4.12 ERA and allowed earned runs in six of those 11 games. His move to the bullpen flashed promise some nights, but inconsistencies plagued Pivetta just like they did when he was a starter.
It is possible, Kapler said, that Pivetta could start for the IronPigs. He will return to the majors in September when rosters expand, and Kapler said the Phillies are “open to any and all possibilities.” Pivetta said he’ll do whatever the team wants.
“We know that there’s a more effective version of Nick in there. We want him to continue to work on his craft,” Kapler said. “In particular, we think that the more he can command, first control then command, his breaking ball, the better he’s going to be.”
The Phillies placed Juan Nicasio on the injured list before Saturday’s game with soreness in his right rotator cuff. He threw two pitches on Friday night before grabbing his shoulder. ... Austin Davis and Edgar Garcia were recalled from triple A to take Nicasio and Pivetta’s spots. ... Aaron Nola will face right-hander Elieser Hernandez in Sunday’s series finale.