Phills view players-only meeting as 'positive'
Teammates trying to find way to get club back on track
BOSTON -- The tiny visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park is a cramped space when players, coaches, athletic trainers, clubhouse attendants and reporters are inside.
But for roughly 30 minutes early Saturday afternoon, the room opened wide as the Phillies held a players-only meeting in the batting cages just around the corner.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"There's no panic here," center fielder Shane Victorino said following a 10-2 loss to the Red Sox. "But, yeah, how long is this going to go? It's what we need to figure out and put a stop to.
"Do we have the answer? No. We went out there. We lost. But to get on the same page I think is what we need to do. At least we're trying to do something to get everybody collectively working together. We show up every day to the park. We want to win. It's not about going out there and losing. Fans are getting frustrated. You're getting frustrated. We're getting frustrated. I hate to use the cliché, but it is early."
But the poor play has lasted nearly four weeks. The Phils might have reached their tipping point following Friday's 12-2 loss to the Red Sox. It was their worst defeat in almost a year, coming in the midst of a slump in which they have lost 16 of their past 23 games.
"I have no problem with that," manager Charlie Manuel said of the players-only meeting. "In the last week, I've probably talked to one or two players a day. I've talked about how things are going and how we're playing. I think sometimes it's better if they get by themselves. I think they need to sit down and talk it over."
So players gathered in the batting cages and talked. If a player had something to say, he spoke.
One veteran player said it reminded him of a team meeting in Cincinnati in 2007, when Manuel, coaches and players gathered and shared their thoughts. He said the '10 version was necessary and productive, and should not be judged a success or failure by Saturday's score.
"It's coming from us," the player said, asked why a players-only meeting might have an impact. "When you have a coach or manager, there's a different tone. He's the boss. He's the manager. He's dictating how he feels, what he feels and what should be done. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it. When players get together, we're able to share more things, how we feel personally."
Although no player divulged details of the meeting, they said the message was positive and the team remains united.
"Confidence," a player said, regarding the tone of the meeting.
"This isn't the style of baseball that we're accustomed to playing," he added. "This isn't the style of baseball we practice and we preach. I think that was the message, and it came through loud and clear."
"Everybody came out positive," right-hander Joe Blanton said. "Hopefully this is a stretch that we'll look back on in September, October, whatever it is, and look back and call it a character-building stretch. That's where we're hoping we can go with this now."
Dobbs fills in for ailing Polanco at third
BOSTON -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel started Greg Dobbs at third base Saturday against the Red Sox because Placido Polanco is ill.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
Polanco is hitting .316 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 212 at-bats. He also has a .352 slugging percentage and a .468 slugging percentage. Dobbs has struggled. He is hitting just .133 with one home run and five RBIs in 60 at-bats. He has a .200 on-base percentage and a .233 slugging percentage. He also is just 1-for-24 as a pinch-hitter.
Out of 60 qualified pinch-hitters in Major League Baseball, Dobbs' .042 average is 59th. Colorado's Dexter Fowler, who is 0-for-11 as a pinch-hitter, is last.
Happ to make rehab start Sunday
BOSTON -- Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ, who has not pitched since April 15 because of a strained left forearm, is scheduled to make a rehab start Sunday for Double-A Reading.
Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who took Happ's spot in the rotation, is 3-2 with a 4.80 ERA in 13 appearances (12 starts) this season. Kendrick is scheduled to pitch Wednesday against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.