THE PHILLIES have lost six straight games, 14 of their last 17 games, and are on a crash course with becoming the first Phillies team to reach 100 losses in 54 years. They'd have to win seven of their remaining 12 games to avoid it.
Nobody one likes losing, obviously, but manager Pete Mackanin made one thing clear yesterday afternoon at Turner Field: He will not stand for players pouting when things are not going well.
Mackanin benched centerfielder Obubel Herrera in the fourth inning of a 2-1 loss to Atlanta after the rookie threw his bat and failed to hustle to first base in his second at-bat. Mackanin said afterward it's been more than a one-day instance with Herrera.
"Boys play Little League and men play Major League Baseball," Mackanin said. "We will not pout, we will not feel sorry for ourselves. If you want to, then you don't belong here. He had to learn a lesson. To me, he's been pouting for a few days, so I just wanted to make sure he gets the message.
"This game is easy to play when everything is going your way. When you're hitting and pitching and winning games, it's easy. Character (expletive deleted) comes out when you're struggling. What kind of person are you? That's what we talk about with the pitchers, to see if they can can get over the hump in getting out of jams . . . You cannot afford to pout or feel sorry for yourself at this level. You've got to play like a man."
Herrera has been lauded for most of the season for his spirited, high energy play. Is this the first time Mackanin's had a problem, or has it come up before this year?
"Lately he's been showing his emotions a little bit more," Mackanin said. "We're just not going to stand for it. He's got to understand that it doesn't work that way. I'm sure he's going to understand."
Herrera, selected by the Phillies in December's Rule 5 draft, is hitting a team-high .293 with a .335 OBP, eight home runs and 27 doubles in 135 games in his first big-league season.
The Phillies are off today. There's a good chance Herrera returns to the lineup tomorrow night in Miami.
Mackanin, meanwhile, may have added another proverbial feather to the hat he's throwing into the vacant managerial post for 2016 with his actions. The interim manager for three months after Ryne Sandberg unexpectedly quit, Mackanin is considered the front-runner for the full-time job.
Adam Morgan has thrown his last pitch of the season.
Morgan, who underwent shoulder surgery in January 2014, was shut down for the season yesterday for precautionary reasons. Morgan threw a total of 152 2/3 innings between the Phillies and Triple A Lehigh Valley this season, just six innings shy of his professional high of 158 2/3 in 2012.
"Everything's feeling good," the 25-year-old Morgan said. "My shoulder's feeling good. My body's feeling good . . . So we just took the precautionary side."
Morgan, the team's third-round pick in the 2011 draft, went 5-7 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts with the Phillies this season. The rookie lefthander held the Braves to two runs in six innings of a 2-1 loss on Friday; it was the eighth time in 15 starts that he had allowed two runs or fewer.
Perhaps the Phillies and Morgan figured that was as good a place as any to end the season - on a positive note and with two weeks of extra rest.
"I don't want to come across as someone who's just shutting it down," Morgan said. "I told them I'm keeping my foot on the gas as long as I can until I hear differently because that's the only way you can do it. You can't in the back of your mind (think), 'Oh, is this my last start? Am I going to shut this down? How do I go about this?' So I just kept going on with my workouts, my throwing and it was just a mutual decision. It just felt like it was right."