Pete Mackanin signs 2-year deal with club option in 2019

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Pete Mackanin signs 2-year deal with club option in 2019 Pete Mackanin signs 2-year deal with club option in 2019 By Corey Seidman | CSNPhilly.com May 11, 2017 9:10 AM
Updated: 7:40 p.m.
For the second straight year, the Phillies increased their commitment to manager Pete Mackanin, signing him to a new contract Thursday.
Mackanin’s contract now runs through 2018 with a club option for 2019. His previous extension, signed last March, took him through the end of 2017 with a 2018 club option.
“I am very pleased with the contributions Pete has made and the job that he has done as the manager of this club,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday at a press conference. “I think he’s grown a lot in the role. And really, whether it’s his interactions with the players, his interactions with the media, his interactions with fans, whether we’re on a winning streak or a losing streak, I think he has clearly solidified that he is the leader of this club.”
Mackanin is in his second full season as the Phillies’ manager after taking over for Ryne Sandberg on June 26, 2015. His record with the Phils is 121-161 (.429).
The Phillies like the way Mackanin communicates with his players.
“I want them to be accountable and I make sure they’re accountable. Back in the old days, it was, ‘I’m the manager, that’s why you’re not playing, get out of my office.’ Doesn’t work anymore,” Mackanin said. “I want the players to respect me and like playing for me. But at the same time, when I want them to be accountable and want them to do something they should or shouldn’t be doing, I let them know about it. It’s kind of a funny relationship, but it’s the one I think I’ve nurtured and that’s my style.”
Klentak credited Mackanin with being instrumental in the growth of the team’s young talent such as Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr. Hernandez leads all major-league second basemen in runs scored (29) and is third in both average (.324) and on-base percentage (.378). Among shortstops, Galvis is tied for the league lead in RBIs with 21, while Altherr is riding an eight-game hitting streak and batting .351 with seven homers, 21 RBIs and a .435 on-base percentage in 25 games. All three have also played strong defense.
“If you look at a few examples, Cesar Hernandez had sort of a rocky road as he first entered the big leagues,” Klentak said. “Through the patience and the work put into it by Pete and Pete’s staff, we’re now seeing Cesar Hernandez establish himself as one of the better all-around second baseman in baseball.
“These guys have shown patience in continuing to work with Freddy Galvis and now he’s one of the main leaders on our club. Pete has continued to try to find ways to get Aaron Altherr in the lineup and now we’re starting to see Aaron Altherr take off and become one of the better players in all of baseball.
“That’s a big part of it — Pete’s ability and our staff’s ability to continue to work with those players, to help them grow, help them improve, to understand that there’s going to be growing pains with young players.”
Mackanin is also savvy with the media, which doesn’t hurt.
“We can see progress in what’s happening right now,” Klentak said. “I can see it, Pete can see it, we all see it — it’s happening before our very eyes. Obviously it has not reflected in our win-loss record, but we can see the progress happening. That’s why we’re making this decision.”
The timing of the extension is interesting as it comes a day after reliever Joaquin Benoit criticized the way the Phillies’ staff has used its struggling bullpen (see story) .
Klentak discussed the topic on Thursday, while Mackanin said he addressed it with Benoit.
“I told him, I said, ‘Look it, when a team’s going through a losing streak I don’t expect everybody to be happy,'” Mackanin said (see story) . “In fact, I expect everybody to be frustrated — from the players to the coaches to myself, nobody’s happy. So I don’t have an issue with that. I spoke to him and it’s done with, it’s all over.”
CSNPhilly.com’s Jordan Hall contributed to this story. Pete Mackanin set to drop slumping Maikel Franco in lineup once rain clears Pete Mackanin set to drop slumping Maikel Franco in lineup once rain clears By Jim Salisbury | CSNPhilly.com May 12, 2017 6:45 PM
WASHINGTON — Pete Mackanin gave struggling Maikel Franco a day off on Wednesday. The schedule-maker gave Franco a day off on Thursday. Mother Nature gave him a day off on Friday.
With heavy rains barreling up the coast, the Washington Nationals postponed Friday night’s scheduled game against the Phillies . Rain began falling in the District about 3 p.m. and was heavy by 4, with more on the way. The game was postponed before 5 p.m.
The postponement means the teams will play a separate-admission doubleheader on Sunday. Game times are 1:30 and 7 p.m. The teams will open the series with their regularly scheduled game Saturday night at 7:05 p.m.
Nick Pivetta (0-2, 5.40) will pitch against Nats’ right-hander Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.46) on Saturday night.
Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.49) will pitch against lefty Gio Gonzalez (3-1, 2.64) on Sunday afternoon.
Vince Velasquez (2-3, 5.94) will oppose Max Scherzer (4-2, 2.59) on Sunday night.
The Phillies and Nationals have already played nine times this season, with the Nats winning five times.
Mackanin had already posted his lineup on the clubhouse wall before Friday night’s game had been rained out. It included a new wrinkle. Franco was back in the starting lineup after being held out Wednesday (he did pinch-hit in that game), but he was not in his customary cleanup spot. He had been dropped to sixth. Franco had hit either cleanup or third (once) in all his starts this season.
Mackanin said he was trying to take some pressure off Franco, who is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. Franco went 1 for 17 on the recently-completed homestand to fall to .207 on the season. His on-base percentage is just .279 and he’s slugging just .355. Despite his struggles, he has 25 RBIs, which puts him just outside the top 10 in the National League. But eight of those RBIs came on two swings — a pair of grand slams in April.
On top of all this, Franco has made five errors, which tied him for the most among NL third basemen entering Friday.
Washington has never been a good matchup for Franco. He is 18 for 122 (.148) in his career against the Nats and 2 for 34 (.059) this season.
This is a big year for the 24-year-old Franco as he tries to convince the front office he is a player worth building around. The jury is still very much undecided. If the front office decides that Franco is not a foundation player, it could look to trade him this offseason, or maybe even sooner. The only way to make these determinations and get Franco the at-bats that he needs to get out of his funk and put up the middle-of-the-order numbers this offense needs is to play him — even if it means not hitting cleanup.
“Just a different surrounding,” Mackanin said. “Just jumble it a little bit. Change it up, different look.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. He took extra batting practice working on what he needs to do. I give him credit. He’s working hard to try to make adjustments. He just needs to learn how to not swing so hard. That’s a key.”
New hitting coach Matt Stairs has stressed a middle-of-the-diamond hitting approach with Franco, and the player has responded.
In batting practice.
He’s had trouble carrying the approach into games, which is not unusual because it’s difficult to un-teach and players often revert back to habits when the action is coming at them in game speed.
Will Franco ever make the improvements he needs to?
“You know, I don’t know,” Mackanin said. “I’m not saying he’s going backward. But I’m just saying he started making improvements and he’s at a stalemate right now. I’m hoping it’ll click one day.”
Mackanin mentioned the changes that red-hot Aaron Altherr has made at the plate and offered them as hope that Franco can improve.
“It’s just like with Altherr: He changed drastically,” Mackanin said. “You have to be able to change drastically to your approach. If you’re making the same outs the same way over and over again, you have to realize it and know what you’re doing and work to not make outs that same way.
“At some point, he’s going to get it. I think he will. Hopefully sooner or later.”
Franco’s future with the Phillies could ride on whether he gets it.
In the meantime, he’s 4 for 20 lifetime with four RBIs, a walk and three strikeouts against Roark, the Nats’ starter on Saturday night.
Note Aaron Nola’s next minor-league rehab start will come on Monday in Rochester, New York. He will pitch for Triple A Lehigh Valley.