ATLANTA -- Rookie Phillies manager Gabe Kapler experienced an embarrassing situation when the team did not have a relief pitcher ready when he went to the mound to remove starting starter Vince Velasquez during the third inning of Saturday night's 15-2 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. The delay
ATLANTA -- Rookie Phillies manager Gabe Kapler experienced an embarrassing situation when the team did not have a relief pitcher ready when he went to the mound to remove starting starter Vince Velasquez during the third inning of Saturday night's 15-2 loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. The delay between when Kapler called for lefty Hoby Milner and when Milner actually was ready to pitch resulted in the ejection of Braves manager Brian Snitker.
"Miscommunication between the dugout and the bullpen, and any time we have a miscommunication it is my full responsibility," Kapler said. "I take full responsibility."
After Kapler went to the mound to take the ball out of Velasquez's hand, Milner expedited a warmup process he hadn't truly started. Crew chief Jerry Layne opted to protect the pitcher by allowing him to throw five warmup pitches once he reached the mound, and Snitker expressed his displeasure vociferously enough to draw his second ejection of the young season.
"[Milner] didn't even have his warmup jacket off when he signaled him in," Layne said. "I didn't know that until after."
Milner arrived at the mound 1 minute and 20 seconds later after Kapler called the bullpen. The lefty completed his warmup pitches on the field 2 minutes and 45 seconds after the call was made, according to the Braves' TV broadcast.
Under the new pace-of-play rules implemented for the 2018 season, pitchers are no longer guaranteed eight warmup pitches between innings or when they enter the game, but instead are given a time limit. By rule, a pitching change in a locally televised game should be completed in no more than 2 minutes, 5 seconds (it's 2 minutes, 25 seconds for national broadcasts). Additionally, Major League rules state that a relief pitcher "shall leave the bullpen promptly following an appropriate signal by their manager or coach."
However, third-base umpire Greg Gibson essentially reverted to the old rule by essentially letting Milner know the throws he made in the bullpen counted for three of his eight allotted warmup pitches.
"For whatever reason, the pitcher wasn't even getting ready," Layne said. "Who got crossed up -- I'm not placing blame on anybody because I don't know. He just wasn't ready. He hadn't thrown a pitch. Greg went out there and indicated that he deducted three pitches from the man. The last thing I want to do is get somebody hurt. It's already a messed-up situation. He's getting five when he got onto the mound. And [Snitker] thought he shouldn't have any. I said, 'Brian, I'm not going to get somebody hurt.'"
Once Milner completed his warmup pitches on the mound, Snitker burst on the field and made his way toward Layne to voice his displeasure.
"Brian just got animated," Layne said. "And there's not a better guy I get along with than Brian. He started doing, you know. I threw him out of the game. It was cut and dried. He never cussed me. He was just so displeased with what happened. There's nothing I can do about it other than report it."
Citing his respect for Layne personally and professionally, Snitker opted not to comment after the game. But there was reason to believe the Braves manager's frustration dated back to Friday night's game, when the umpires opted not to charge the Phillies with a challenge after Kapler had requested they review whether Ryan Flaherty left third base too soon.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.