– This team is not very good.
— Before the game, Tony Franklin had a piece of paper on his desk informing him of a fine from the Eastern League due to a previous ejection. With his team down 6-0 today in the second inning, he decided to throw them another few dollars, getting tossed again after arguing with the home plate umpire on a botched bunt call.
While most of the damage had already been done, at least Franklin didn’t have to stick around to watch the last seven innings of a simply miserable baseball game.
“The fact of the matter is, for some reason or another, our brains aren’t turned on and our bodies aren’t functioning as well as they should,” Franklin said.
“They may think that they’re preparing well, they may think that they’re ready to go, but in essence, their performance says differently. I’m pretty disappointed about it. At some point, it’s going to have to hit home. I continue to go in there and tell them.”
Franklin saw all he needed to see from Ryan Pope to know that he wasn’t at his best today…
In lieu of typing that stuff out, here’s some audio from inside the manager’s office. Click here to download and listen to a lengthy part of the post-game chat.
— Pope’s outing was probably the worst by any Thunder pitcher this season. The line tells the tale: 5 IP+, 13 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2 HBP.
But, give him credit for two things.
One, with a depleted bullpen and clearly not his best stuff, he stayed out there and wore it for as long he could.
And two, he was man enough to face the media after the game. I don’t think anyone would have batted an eye if he didn’t want to talk or had made himself scarce.
“I’m going to go back out there and compete and put this day behind me,” Pope said.
“That’s the best thing I can do, I can’t dwell on today. You have your good days and bad days, and today was probably the worst day at the field of my life. But tomorrow, I’ve just got to come back and work harder. There’s nothing I can do about it now, it’s over.”
After a few so-so starts now — and this one was clearly worse than just so-so — I’ve asked Pope about that gap in the middle of May, where he was skipped in the rotation after making his best Double-A start against Portland. And every time, he’s refused to use that as an excuse.
“I felt like everything was clicking at that point in time,” Pope said.
“But I’ve had enough time inbetween to get (stuff) straight, and I just haven’t done it. It’s inexcusable.”
— As we waited outside the clubhouse for Tommy Phelps to get done with a loud, yet succinct meeting with his pitchers in the weight room and Tony Franklin to finish up a similar “chat” after Phelps was done, a bag of bats was sitting across from the door.
Look at the box score, and it seems pretty clear that Chris Malec was the only one who actually picked his up before the game.
Malec finished a triple short of the cycle, collecting four of the Thunder’s five hits and driving in both of their runs.
He wouldn’t admit it, but he seemed to be the only one on the team who showed up today.
“I would never say anybody didn’t show up,” Malec said.
“I went 1-for-4 with four terrible at-bats last night, and I felt like I showed up and gave everything I’ve got. I’d say everybody gave everything they had today. But sometimes it’s tough, and you overtry. Maybe in the back of our minds, it’s hey we don’t play well in day games and we put pressure on ourselves, especially at the plate.”
It’s true, the Thunder are 8-13 in day games (stat via John Nalbone), but it’s apparently not a topic of conversation amongst the players.
“We never talk about it,” Malec said.
“Tony talks about and makes sure we’re ready to play when that clock strikes 12 o’clock today or whatever time. It’s just something where we’ve got to get ready to go. We talk about it a little bit with our teammates, but in the end it’s our careers and each and every at-bat counts. Whether it’s a day game or a night game, those bats have got to show up.”
— Noah Hall (back) was placed on the disabled list just before game time, and Jack Rye was added from Tampa. Additionally, Richie Robnett was called up to Triple-A Scranton after the game, clearing a spot for Jeremy Bleich to be activated for his start tomorrow.
“You’ve always got to expect the unexpected,” said Robnett of his call-up.
“I guess the situation is that a few guys went down up there, and they need an extra guy. I don’t think it’s based on performance or anything like that, it’s just they have a need right now.”
The former first round pick was 0-for-3 with a walk today — oddly, Rye was coaching first base after the ejection of Tony Franklin and not playing in left field so that Robnett could get a head start on his way to Scranton — which dropped his average to a still impressive .348. Still, with his Oakland A’s equipment back over one shoulder and some personal luggage on the other, he downplayed the quick move to Triple-A.
“I’m a guy they just picked up, so I kind of know my role as far as wherever I’ve got to go at whatever time, that’s where they need me to be,” he said.
“I’m not one of the everyday guys. I’ve got to just take what I get, and if they need me up there, I’ll go up there. If they need me down in Tampa, I’ll go there. I think that’s pretty much my role that I’m playing right now.”
Robnett certainly has the credentials to be more than just filler for the organization, so I asked him whether it’s become difficult not to press to try to expand his role.
“It is, but it’s whenever you get your opportunity, you’ve got to try to make the best of it,” he told me.
“That’s what I’ve learned over this year, actually. Don’t take anything for granted. Stay relaxed. If you’re not playing, OK. Try to learn something in the game, watch the game, see if you can pick up something. And when you get your opportunity, try to make the best of it. That’s pretty much all you can do.”
— A roster move would still need to be made to accomodate Wilkin de la Rosa, who is listed as pitching on Friday on the rotation listed in the clubhouse. With Jason Johnson pitching on Thursday, he’s likely to be the move…one way or the other.
— It’s interesting…with one throw home, Austin Krum displayed a stronger arm than Seth Fortenberry — who supposedly had the best outfield arm in the organization — ever did. And with one errant toss to third base that couldn’t have been corraled by Gheorghe “Cabbage, Gheorghe? Chicks dig it.” Muresan while he was standing on top of Manute Bol, it made you wonder what Fortenberry was up to down in Tampa.
— Every Reading starter had at least one hit except for ex-Thunder backstop Kevin Nelson. And he settled for a measly three RBI instead.
— While the Yankees held out Zach McAllister — instead deciding to burn the bullpen yet again yesterday as a result — the Phillies seemed to have no issue with Joe Savery coming back out on short rest. Seems he handled it just fine, allowing just two hits over six innings of work to improve to 10-1. Seems to me that’s a classic case of two organizations handling the exact same situation differently.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com