Phillies vs. Giants: Gabe Kapler returns to Philly

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Corey Seidman
·3 min read
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Gabe Kapler returns to Philly with a lot to think about beyond fan reception originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Gabe Kapler is back in town, managing a game in Philly for the first time since he was fired after the 2019 season.

Kapler has skippered the Giants to a 38-37 record the last two seasons while the Phillies have gone 36-39. Both teams lost their final three games of 2020 and missed the expanded playoffs by a game.

Obviously, Kapler's tenure here was rocky from the start. He was so different — in personality and strategy — than the Phillies managers who preceded him that he faced an uphill battle from the day he was introduced. Those who disliked the hire were immediately validated when Kapler pulled Aaron Nola at 68 pitches and 5⅓ innings with a 5-0 lead on opening day 2018 in a game the Phillies would go on to lose. There were more downs than ups, particularly in September with the team clinging to its playoff hopes, and he was replaced by Joe Girardi after two seasons on the job.

There will likely be more than 10,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night for the Phillies-Giants series opener and they'll make their voices heard any time Kapler leaves the visiting dugout.

"I don't know," Kapler said Sunday when asked how he thinks he might be received at Citizens Bank Park. "I don't want to say I haven't thought about it, I have. But making that prediction, I just don't know where to begin."

Kapler did not seem interested Sunday in replaying the past, particularly with all that's gone on with his own team the last couple of days. The Giants do not know the status of starting catcher Buster Posey for this series after he was hit by a pitch in the elbow Saturday. He showed up Sunday with ample swelling and an IL stint may be necessary.

They also had two pitchers go on the injured list Sunday with COVID vaccine-related illnesses: closer Jake McGee, who leads the majors with six saves and nine appearances, and Logan Webb, who was slated to start Tuesday's game. Both pitchers could be activated during the series as there is no minimum length for a player on the COVID injured list.

Perhaps down the road when Kapler isn't an active manager, he'll share his version of what went wrong in Philly. You'll probably never hear him say he didn't get a fair shake from the organization, though.

"I think there's a long list of things," he said. "I guess my mindset isn't going back and examining rosters and trying to figure out where responsibility lies. There were a lot of opportunities to perform better, a lot of opportunities to coach better.

"I feel like I had a chance with two baseball teams that were a lot of fun to work with. I did the best job I could every day and it didn't work out. I understand."