Bradley eyes bigger role than dugout stylist

June 9th, 2021

PHILADELPHIA -- hoped to change the mojo, so he recently wore a wide-brimmed, Phillies-themed Panama hat into the clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.

“When you’re not playing the baseball that you think you’re capable of, you’re always looking for something to get the team going,” Bradley said Wednesday afternoon. “Personally, being a reliever, I always like to bring more to the team than just pitching. I kind of feel left out sometimes. I only get to go one inning. I’m always trying to bring more to the field, more to the team. I started wearing the hat around. Someone suggested we start wearing it in the dugout and it’s like, ‘Well, let’s wear it for homers.’”

Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto each wore the hat after homering in Tuesday’s loss to the Braves.

Bradley pitched a scoreless sixth inning in the loss. It was his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance after a slow start to the season, an oblique injury that kept him on the injured list for more than a month and more struggles upon his return. Bradley signed a one-year, $6 million contract in the offseason to be the setup man or closer, but Phillies manager Joe Girardi has used him recently in lower leverage situations.

His role reduction came to mind after Connor Brogdon and Sam Coonrod blew a one-run lead in the eighth on Tuesday. It was the sixth time this season the Phillies lost a game when leading after the seventh inning. No team has lost more games like that.

Entering the season, the Phillies envisioned Bradley pitching in that spot.

Maybe he will be again soon.

“Confidence-wise, I’m for sure ready,” Bradley said. “Physically, I’m ready. Mechanically, I’m getting there. It’s no secret, some of my struggles and some of the things I’m working through. But I’ve done that before. I hate to call myself a veteran, but I am a veteran. I’ve done this. I’ve struggled, I’ve gotten better. And that’s what it’s about. I’ve really been working hard to get my form back and get back to the guy that the Phillies need me to be.

“It’s not necessarily a blow to the ego. It’s more personally, I want those roles. I want that situation. Because I can handle blowing a game and coming back the next day. And not that other guys on this team can’t, but I’m seasoned. I know how to handle losing a game and then pitching the next day. I told these guys when I signed here, 'I don’t care if I’m the long guy, I don’t care if I’m the closer, I want to pitch meaningful innings to help this team win.' So, coming back and not being in that role, the only thing I can do is help the guys who are in that role. If I’m throwing in the third, make sure that I throw my third inning well because that affects the chain down the road.”

Girardi wants Williams to play
Rookie started in center field Wednesday because he faced Braves left-hander Tucker Davidson in the Minor Leagues.

“I want to keep his at-bats going, move him around a lot,” Girardi said. “He’s obviously had a great year so far, both in Triple-A and Team USA. I don’t want him to sit for long periods of time. We’re going to use him to pinch-hit, double-switch and play different positions. He needs to get at-bats.”

It sounds like Williams could fill the role that the Phillies once envisioned for Scott Kingery. The Phillies outrighted Kingery to Triple-A on Monday.

“With him being able to play any outfield position or any infield position,” Girardi said about Williams, “it gives us a ton of flexibility.”

Girardi said removing Kingery from the 40-man roster should make things more consistent for him in that Kingery knows he will play every day in Triple-A without any interruptions. He needs to play every day to improve offensively.

“I still think there’s a ton of potential there,” Girardi said. “I think he’s a very athletic player that has huge upside. So the fact that we were able to keep him, I think is a plus.”