PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Neshek seems to have a case of seller's remorse.Last week in New York, after an April 2 game against the Mets got postponed because of snow, the Phillies reliever bought a few boxes of 2018 Topps Heritage baseball cards to open in his hotel room. Neshek, who
PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Neshek seems to have a case of seller's remorse.
Last week in New York, after an April 2 game against the Mets got postponed because of snow, the Phillies reliever bought a few boxes of 2018 Topps Heritage baseball cards to open in his hotel room. Neshek, who is an avid baseball card and autograph collector, pulled a lottery ticket from one of the packs: a Shohei Ohtani card signed in red ink, one of just 69 in existence.
Neshek had the first card in the series, making it even more valuable.
"It was the best card I've ever pulled in my life," Neshek said Tuesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. "It kind of blew my mind. I knew somebody would cherish it a lot more than I did, so I was like, I'm going to list this so I can get something I want or go buy another case [of cards]. That's kind of how the hobby works. Yeah, so I put it up, it was pretty fierce bidding there."
The card sold for $6,100 on eBay.
Of course, almost on cue, Ohtani homered in three consecutive games last week, before he struck out 12 batters in seven scoreless innings in a one-hitter on Sunday against the A's.
Ohtani is the biggest story in baseball, meaning the card might have already appreciated in value.
"Yeah," Neshek said with a smile, asked if he regrets selling it. "I mean, back in the day I sold an Aaron Rodgers card about his second year in [the NFL]. I think I got like $40 and they were going for like, two or three grand a couple years ago. That was a dumb one. That's kind of the name of the game. You see it with the Aaron Judge stuff. His stuff wasn't selling, then when he blew up last year, it kind of revitalized the whole baseball card industry. They had their best year in 20 years last year. It's nice to see people doing that.
"Hopefully Ohtani does the same thing, and more people will get into the hobby."
Neshek said he will use the money to buy another case of cards. He knows he has little chance of finding another Ohtani.
"You're not going to get that card again," he said. "It's got to be one in a couple thousand cases."
Neshek is currently on the 10-day disabled list because of a strained right shoulder. He received a cortisone injection on Friday. He said it has helped, and he will be re-evaluated on Sunday. He said he still could be at least a week away from beginning his throwing program, which might take another two-to-three weeks to then rejoin the Phillies.
"I was kind of scared last week, so this is pretty good news," Neshek said.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has raved about the improvements catchers Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp have made framing pitches, calling games and more. But it is interesting that Knapp leads baseball with three errors, while Alfaro is tied for second with two. Knapp also has allowed two passed balls, which is tied for second in baseball.
Could the team's focus on pitch framing affect other aspects of the catchers' games? Former Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said in Spring Training that it can be difficult trying to steal strikes, particularly with runners on base. His priority, he said, is catching the ball and throwing the ball in those situations.
"It's a reasonable concern," Kapler said. "I don't know that I have any surefire answers to it. But we're all very focused on the entire picture of a catcher. … I trust that they can do all of those things and do them all together. It's not one or the other. Nothing is mutually exclusive. You can be a good receiver, a good framer and also a good blocker and a good thrower."
Right-hander Tommy Hunter is on the DL with a strained right hamstring. He is going to test his leg with fielding drills on Wednesday. He could begin a rehab assignment shortly after that, although Kapler declined to offer any timetable.
Kapler also declined to offer a timetable for Mark Leiter's recovery from a strained flexor pronator in his right arm.
Where's that lefty?
The Phillies announced on social media before Opening Day that they were looking for a left-handed batting practice pitcher. They have not hired anybody.
"It's kind of fallen off the radar the last couple of days," Kapler said. "It seems like there's been other things that have taken up attention. We'll get back to that. A lot of our guys like to see left-handed pitching."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.