A nickname has begun circulating around the Phillies clubhouse of late. It was created a few days ago, after Matt Vierling and Alec Bohm hit home runs off of Brewers closer Josh Hader, who hadn’t allowed a run in almost a year. No one is sure who was the first to say it, but it has stuck.
“They call us the Phillies day care,” infielder Bryson Stott said. “The veteran guys picked up on it. (Hitting coach) Kevin Long will say, ‘It’s time for the day care to get going.’”
Added Mickey Moniak: “Once Vierling and Bohm hit those home runs in Milwaukee, Harper goes, ‘Don’t let the day care get hot.’ After that, we just decided it was going to be a thing.”
The day care, of course, is meant to represent the Phillies younger players, like Stott, Moniak, Bohm, Vierling, and Nick Maton, who have been getting more playing time under interim manager Rob Thomson. Thomson has said he will prioritize getting the Phillies’ younger players more regular at-bats, and, so far, the younger players have rewarded him for it.
Stott is batting .308/.379/.692 over his last seven games. Vierling’s home run off of Hader came in his first at-bat back in the big leagues after returning from triple-A Lehigh Valley. Bohm has made some impressive defensive plays — including an over-the-railing catch he made Friday. Moniak hasn’t seen the offensive production he showed in the spring quite yet, but he’s been putting together some strong at-bats and is confident the rest will come.
Moniak said he’s confident Thomson knows that, too, which gives him peace of mind. He knows he will keep getting at-bats, which takes some of the pressure off. And when he’s not in the lineup, Thomson will explain why.
“Topper is very open,” Moniak said. “He’s very communicative with everybody in the clubhouse. He’ll let you know when you’re playing; he’ll let you know when you’re not playing. Reasonings behind things, stuff like that. There’s no secrets with Topper, and that’s been huge, especially for the young guys. You can sense the faith he has in us. He trusts us to get the job done, and, so far, we’ve been doing it.
“At the end of the day, the manager makes those decisions. And as players, we have full trust in the manager, and, specifically, we have full trust in Topper. At the end of the day, everyone in this clubhouse wants to win. And if it were up to everybody in this clubhouse, their name would be in the lineup every day, but there are 26 guys here and nine spots out there. We have all of the faith in the world in Topper to pull the right strings.”
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Moniak said the open style of communication is a new development, and younger players weren’t getting as much of a heads up under former manager Joe Girardi.
“It started once Topper got here,” Moniak said. “And that’s a big thing for us. Not to knock Joe for not doing it. It’s all stylistic, and every person is different. There’s not one manager who is the same.”
Added Vierling: “I think he just communicates really well. As a young guy, you really appreciate it. I’ve experienced it a little bit; it’s easy to overthink on things. He’s just open and honest with you. It makes it easier for all of us to be ourselves. It gives you more clarity.”
Thomson said he has made open communication a priority with with the entire team, not just the younger players.
“I think it gives them peace of mind when they go home at night,” Thomson said. “They can sleep better knowing whether they’re playing or they’re not playing. I know I was never a guy that played a lot, so I knew most of the time I wasn’t playing, but I know it’s important not only to young guys but also the veterans. They know exactly where I’m at, where the coaching staff is at, the playing time, with their role. It just gives them a little bit of a peace of mind.”