The Phillies won on Thursday, which is great. But even that wasn’t drama-free. And no, I’m not talking about another Odubel Herrera baserunning error (though that did happen). This is drama between reliever Pat Neshek and manager Pete Mackanin.
In the eighth inning of Thursday’s game, Pat Neshek came in with one out and needed just five pitches to get the final two outs. It was another perfect performance in a string of perfect Neshek relief appearances. But with just five pitches under his belt, Mackanin told Stephen Gross of the Morning Call that he wanted Neshek to go back out for the ninth.
Here’s where things get interesting. Mack told the Morning Call that he asked Neshek to go back out, but Neshek declined. Here’s the quote.
"I asked him to go back out," Mackanin said. "He said he would rather not, he didn't feel like he had it."
Okay, pretty cut-and-dried. OR IS IT?! Because back in the clubhouse once the game was over, Neshek said that Mackanin had never asked him to go back out.
What’s nuts about this, as if this situation wasn’t kind of crazy to begin with, is that this is the second straight day this has happened. On Wednesday, Mack told the press that Neshek wasn’t available due to soreness. But Neshek said that Mackanin had given him the day off when he got to the clubhouse.
I want to give everybody the benefit of the doubt here. After Wednesday’s non-agreement, I thought it was possible that one or the other was misunderstood. Though I’m not sure how Pete got “I’m sore, I can’t pitch” and Neshek got “You’ve got the day off” from presumably the same exchange. But I wasn’t there, it could happen!
Thursday’s miscommunication, though, makes me pretty sure someone is lying. This isn’t a matter of what words Mackanin chose, he either approached Neshek or he didn’t. Neshek is essentially saying that Mackanin made up an entire exchange between the two of them.
That Mackanin is lying here seems pretty unlikely, especially since it’s his job to not just win games, but add and remove pitchers from the game. He could be trying to cover his ass, but considering how shitty the team has been lately, this seems like a ridiculous thing to cover his ass over.
The more likely scenario? Neshek wants off of the Phillies. Infuriating the coaching staff and front office is a great way to make sure the team doesn’t keep you for rebuilding purposes. Neshek is definitely infuriating them by obliquely accusing the manager of lying.