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This Phils superstition plants seeds of success

@ToddZolecki
June 25, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The large bamboo plant in the middle of the Phillies’ clubhouse is a fun thing meant to break up the bad mojo that has followed the team the past few weeks. Phillies infielder Brad Miller purchased a small one for his locker before Monday’s 13-7 victory over the

PHILADELPHIA -- The large bamboo plant in the middle of the Phillies’ clubhouse is a fun thing meant to break up the bad mojo that has followed the team the past few weeks.

Phillies infielder Brad Miller purchased a small one for his locker before Monday’s 13-7 victory over the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. He said he believed it would bring the Phils luck. (He has done this before in the Minor Leagues and he has them in his home.) So when the offense exploded in the series opener against New York, he brought a much bigger one that he purchased in Chinatown for the middle of the clubhouse.

“We’ll ride it out a little bit,” Miller said.

Who knows? Maybe it will become a thing. Maybe if the Phillies turn around their season and win the World Series they can have a float dedicated solely to the plant and the curveball machine, which a few players used on Monday.

Nova Nation

Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright spoke to the team before Tuesday’s game. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Wright was one of the first people to reach out to him when he got the job.

“One of the messages was how we're constantly competing with ourselves,” Kapler said. “I think Scott Kingery has always had that competition with himself to be the best version of himself. The other message coach Wright sent that I thought was perfectly timed, applicable and spot on was that his championship teams dealt with that adversity in various ways and he called out that he remembered feeling like, ‘What the hell is going on around here?’ when things aren't going right. Then, of course, they won.”

Kapler has had guest speakers address the team over the past two years, including former Eagles safety Brian Dawkins, Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, Eagles center Jason Kelce and boxer Keith Thurman.

“Often times the question we ask is, ‘How do you perform well in this environment?’” Kapler said.

'Stranger Things' actor tosses first pitch

Actor David Harbour threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Harbour plays Hawkins police chief Jim Hopper on "Stranger Things." Season 3 debuts on Netflix on July 4. Harbour said he recently binge-watched the entire season and loved it.

Homer things

The Phillies have allowed 133 home runs in 78 games this season, putting them on pace for 276. It is a 61.4 percent increase from last season, when they allowed 171.

Kapler discussed Monday how the Phils planned to simplify their offensive approach, sitting on fastballs. They are trying something similar with pitchers. He held up a chart that lists every pitcher and where he can go for a ground ball and a swing and miss vs. Mets hitters.

“We want to simplify things, make things less complicated, not more complicated,” Kapler said. “We're always here to provide as much information as possible. But we definitely want to take a simplified approach to pitching and hitting right now.

“We hope it pops into a pitcher's mind. I'm facing [Robinson] Cano, here's what I have to do to get that player out. Again, in a perfect-world scenario, it's just following J.T. [Realmuto] or Andrew [Knapp’s] game plan. Sometimes it is helpful to have an additional layer of conviction. ‘This was told to me. I remember this.’ The first step is selecting the pitch we think is most likely to get a hitter out. The second step is executing that pitch. So the easier part is providing the right information. The more difficult part, and the one we are trying to solve, is the execution. That comes sometimes with tweaks in mechanics. Sometimes it comes with confidence-building. Sometimes it comes through a change in sequencing. But we're always trying to execute better.”

Extra bases

• Right-hander Tommy Hunter (strained right forearm) is scheduled to make a rehab appearance Tuesday with Double-A Reading. The Phillies have a couple more rehab appearances scheduled, but the possibility exists they could activate him following this one.

• Outfielder Adam Haseley (strained left groin) will continue a rehab assignment with Reading. It is possible he could rejoin the Phils once he is healthy, but he also could return to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .