Hernandez has to work on thievery skills
PHILADELPHIA >> Pete Mackanin tried this season to allow the organic development of Cesar Hernandez as a basestealer.
Next season, the Phillies’ manager will take more control.
Exasperated that the speedy Hernandez had been caught stealing 13 times in 30 attempts, Mackanin indicated Wednesday that he will change his policy with his second baseman.
“What it boils down to is we learned we can’t give Cesar the green light,” he said before an 8-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. “We can do it only in certain situations.”
After Hernandez stole 19 bases and was caught five times last season, Mackanin effectively approved him to steal whenever he felt comfortable. But Hernandez has been caught stealing 13 times and had just 17 stolen bases.
“He’s got a green light,” Mackanin said. “And it hasn’t been real good for him this year. He was better last year. It’s just a matter of not getting good jumps.
“That’s a shame, as fast as he is. Some guys are good at it and others aren’t. Peter Bourjos has got plus speed and he has never been a real elite base-stealer. You’d think he would with his speed. But there’s a knack to it. I’m going to have to pick pitches for him.”
Mackanin has exercised his authority to freeze Hernandez at times. For instance, if a pitcher has a particularly quick delivery, the manager will signal third-base coach Juan Samuel, who will remove Hernandez’s green light. That helped some. But not enough.
Every indication is that Hernandez, who has a 26-game on-base streak, will be the leadoff hitter in 2017. His speed is one reason. It just will be used differently.
“He’s just made a lot of bad choices,” Mackanin said. “But he just doesn’t get the jump that you need to get. There’s like a little lean. There’s a knack to it.”
••• Not that he won’t use him in any more save situations, but Mackanin is relaxing his commitment to closer Jeanmar Gomez.
“I know he hasn’t pitched well for over a month now,” the manager said. “But what has he blown, five saves? That’s 37 out of 42, which is pretty good. But maybe he is running out of gas. I still see velocity and I still see stuff. But he is missing location. He’s up in the zone more which may indicate that he is getting tired.”
The Phillies did not face a save situation Wednesday, but David Hernandez entered with an 8-3 lead and pitched a scoreless ninth.
Mackanin does not know whether Gomez will be his closer next season, but would like to give him some more chances this year.
“I don’t want him to finish the season on a sour note,” the manager said. “I’d like him to finish on a positive note. That’s going to enter my decision on that.”
••• Tommy Joseph hit his 21st home run, matching Scott Rolen’s Rookie of the Year output of 1997.
“Scott?” Joseph said. “That’s a pretty good guy to tie.”
He is one short of Ryan Howard’s 2005 rookie production of 22 home runs.
“Elite company, huh?” he said, smiling.
••• Jerad Eickhoff, 2-8 at one point this season, improved to 11-14, striking out six and walking one in seven innings. He allowed three solo home runs, though two landed just over Citizens Bank Park’s shallow left field fence. It was his sixth consecutive “quality start.”
Eickhoff has pitched 187.1 innings, giving himself a shot at 200 for the season.
“I think that would be a pretty cool benchmark to get to, being this is my first full year,” he said. “I try to think as day-byday as I can and control what I can control pitch to pitch.”
••• NOTES >> The Phillies will open a four-game series against the Mets Thursday night (7:10) at CitiField. Adam Morgan (2-10, 5.49 ERA) will face right-hander Seth Lugo (4-2, 2.35). … Jeremy Hellickson, Alec Asher and Jake Thompson will pitch for the Phils over the weekend. … The Phils finished their season at 11-9 in inter-league games.