In the wake of his team’s third straight loss, a dreadful 11-2 pounding at the hands of the New York Mets on Monday,Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg called a team meeting before the club opened a six-game road trip Tuesday night.
“I thought it was time to regroup and remind the guys about execution and game situations, to let them know I thought that was important,” Sandberg said. “You have to grind it out to get the job done.”
This wasn’t the first time Sandberg met with his club after it had played poorly in a series. He called a meeting in New York after four straight losses against Toronto last month.
Sandberg was asked about the tone of this latest meeting.
“It was a serious,” he said. “It was necessary. There has to be a sense of urgency right now.”
The Phillies won two straight after Sandberg’s last team meeting then lost 13 of their next 20, culminating with Monday night’s defeat, which dropped the club to a season-worst seven games under .500.
Will this latest team meeting have impact?
“We’re going to find out,” Marlon Byrd said. “Meetings don’t get teams going. Players have to go out and play.
“When you have meetings, it means things aren’t going right. You don’t want to have meetings. Period.”
Things definitely aren’t going right for the Phillies. They went 4-7 on the homestand that ended Monday night. They scored two or fewer runs in five of the losses. They were shut out twice and no-hit once.
On top of it all, the Phillies made mistakes on the base paths and in the field and they lacked clutch hitting. In the wake of the poor homestand, bench coach Larry Bowa sharply criticized the team’s offense and overall play in a radio interview Tuesday morning (see story) and, in a separate radio interview, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he was getting closer to selling off talent and charting a rebuilding course (see story).
“On my end, I think it’s too early yet for that,” Sandberg said. “I’m waiting for a hot streak. We haven’t had a hot streak yet. I’m waiting for more consistent production in all areas of the game to allow us to have a hot streak. That’s been the mentality since we left spring training – for everyone to step up and push.”
A poor trip could drive Amaro closer to holding a fire sale.
“It’s time right now to do something about it,” Sandberg said. “It’s about getting the job done, playing better, full games to allow us to have a chance to win. It’s important.
“It’s about 25 guys contributing. That was the whole meeting, everybody be ready to do your job. They’re here for a reason, to do their job. For me, the effort and the hustle and preparation have been constant. It’s about recognizing a game situation and having the right approach and grinding it out to do the job in that situation.”
Sandberg shuffled his lineup for Tuesday night’s game against Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. Jimmy Rollins was moved to the leadoff hole, Chase Utley hit second and Byrd third in front of Ryan Howard. Ben Revere was dropped to eighth.
-- Jim Salisbury, CSN Philadelphia