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Phillies Notebook: Rob Thomson looks back on ‘outstanding’ relationship with Gabe Kapler

PHILADELPHIA — The trajectories of Gabe Kapler and Rob Thomson, at least for the Philly chapters of their careers, will always be linked.

The Phillies manager and former Phillies manager arrived together in 2018, Kapler as the analytics-minded boss, Thomson as his grounding, baseball lifer of a bench coach. Within five years, one would be the National League Manager of the Year, the other would win a pennant.

Whatever the prevailing sentiment among Phillies fans about Kapler, who led the Phillies for two eventful if disappointing seasons in 2018 and 2019, Thomson has nothing but good things to say before their teams started a three-game set Monday.

“A lot about how to treat people,” Thomson replied about what he learned from Kapler. “He treated me as good as anybody has ever treated me. He was outstanding. I learned a lot about the analytics side of the game. I think you’ve got to have a balance there. Some people think differently than that, and that’s fine. But he taught me a lot about the numbers.”

Twelve years separate Thomson and Kapler, perhaps more in ideology.

Thomson was coaching the Yankees while Kapler was kicking it around in the AL East. Such was the Phillies’ regard of Thomson that he stuck around even after Kapler departed with a 161-163 record, to join the staff of Joe Girardi.

While the Phillies’ playoff drought stretched past a decade and Girardi got the boot, Kapler was leading the 2021 Giants to 107 wins.

Part of their working relationship seems predicated on Kapler acknowledging and accepting their differences.

“When I came in, Gabe sort of gave me the freedom to do my own thing and do what I’ve always done, so that’s what I did,” Thomson said. “The conversations were a little bit different just because we had two different types of strategies, but in terms of my on personal work, it was the same.”

This series may be a prelude to more between the pals. The Phillies enter occupying the first Wild Card spot, the Giants in the second, two games behind.

The Phillies navigated that second Wild Card berth last year, winning a two-game set in St. Louis on the way to a pennant.

But San Francisco is a different beast, where they haven’t won a series since 2013. The Phillies are 3-12 against the Giants in their last 15 meetings, including a sweep by the Bay May 15-17. The last time the Phillies won a series against the Giants, in 2019, the pitchers of record were Drew Smyly, Jeff Smaradzija and Jose Alvarez

The Phillies have won just two of their last 14 games in San Francisco and are 5-22 there since 2014.

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Jose Alvarado was activated from the injured list Monday.

He has been on the IL twice this year, the latest stint starting July 7. When healthy, he’s dominated, to the tune of a 1.38 ERA in 26 innings with six saves.

Alvarado had two scoreless outings in Lehigh Valley, on a rehab assignment delayed by hand cramping.

“He’s a high-end reliever,” Thomson said. “Left-handed, can get right-handers out, and it lengthens our bullpen, especially late in the game.”

To make room, Luis Ortiz was optioned to Triple-A, with Weston Wilson. Wilson made way for the injury-list reinstatement of Brandon Marsh on Sunday.

With Ranger Suarez on the IL, the Phillies are back to a full eight-man bullpen with a five-man rotation.

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NOTES >> The Phillies have paused Cristian Pache’s rehab assignment from elbow surgery after he developed, “some hip tightness which turned into some knee soreness.” Thomson is confident it is a minor issue. … Marsh, who returned from 14 days on the shelf, got the day off Monday as the Phillies ease him back in. … Taijuan Walker, who was skipped in his last turn in the rotation to rest his arm and try to remedy flagging velocity, threw a bullpen and was deemed ready to go by Thomson. He’ll start Tuesday against the Giants. “His last bullpen was good,” Thomson said. “He feels good. Hopefully we’ve turned a corner with that. I expect him to pitch and pitch well tomorrow on a full pitch count.” … Thomson said they’re still taking it “day-by-day” with Bryce Harper at first base. Alec Bohm got the start Monday night (and made a couple of sharp defensive plays). Harper and Bohm both homered, Bohm over the State Farm sign in left center, Harper off it in an inside-the-parker thanks to a shambolic defensive play by the Giants’ Wade Meckler.

Source: Berkshire mont

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