Gabe Kapler smiled and joked often during his pre-game meeting with reporters before Thursday’s opening contest of a 10-game Phillies homestand which begins with four games against a Pirates team off to a strong start.
And there’s plenty of room for improvement. Carlos Santana is hitting.131, J.P. Crawford.182 and Jorge Alfaro.194.
This homestand – the longest of the season – could be a big springboard if the Phillies can maintain their recent momentum and show a little more on the offensive end. They will face Arizona and Atlanta for three games each after the four-game set with the Pirates.
The three opponents have a combined record of 34-18.
* The Phillies wore the powder blue uniforms that were a staple of the 1970’s teams on Thursday and Kapler said he was a big fan.
I love them, this was my childhood hat, said Kapler, showing off the old-school P. I’m proud to wear (this uniform) today. I had a satin Phillies jacket when I was young. I wasn’t a Phillies fan, but my mom got me a satin jacket for Christmas. And our dog was named after Pete Rose.
Asked if the dog gambled as well, Kapler said he did but quipped he always bet on himself.
* Reliever Tommy Hunter could be close to a return. The free-agent signee has missed the start of the season with a hamstring injury.
Hunter is scheduled to pitch his next rehab game on Friday for Double-A Reading.
He’ll do his thing and we’ll read and react from there, said Kapler. We’ll take it step by step and continue to make (his return) TBD.
He profiles as a guy who can give us one-plus (inning). His flexibility makes him unique. He can be ready to go earlier in the game. His ability to go through the left-handed part of lineup is what is exciting and he can dominate right-handers as well.
To help LaFleur, the Titans brought former New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis aboard to serve in a thunder-and-lightning timeshare with bruiser Derrick Henry.