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Klentak expects 'learning curve' for Kapler

Arrieta throws sim game; Hunter nearing return from DL
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

NEW YORK -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, like manager Gabe Kapler, is keeping the long view in mind.

Kapler's managerial debut last week in Atlanta has been criticized throughout baseball, but Klentak stressed before Tuesday's game against the Mets at Citi Field that three games should not define the rookie manager.

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NEW YORK -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, like manager Gabe Kapler, is keeping the long view in mind.

Kapler's managerial debut last week in Atlanta has been criticized throughout baseball, but Klentak stressed before Tuesday's game against the Mets at Citi Field that three games should not define the rookie manager.

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"Three games, as challenging as they may have been, are not going to undo all of the positives that have occurred over the last six months, both on and off the field," Klentak said. "I think we're fortunate to have leadership in the organization above my pay grade that fully recognizes that as well."

Kapler said Monday and again Tuesday that he spent the past few days putting together a bullpen usage plan to make sure things work better in the future, although he has said that the way he used the bullpen is exactly how the Phillies planned to use it. It just did not work.

Klentak concurred.

"I understood what he was doing and why he was doing it," Klentak said. "We know that style of bullpen management is not going to continue for 162 games. It can't. We can't carry a ninth bullpen piece all year. Naturally, the starters will be more stretched out. The bullpen will settle into some roles. We never had any desire to do that all year long. That was the way we thought was the best game plan for the Atlanta series, and it didn't work."

Klentak seems confident that Kapler will settle into his job.

"When you hire any manager, but especially a rookie manager, we know that there is going to be a learning curve to some of this," Klentak said. "We also know that the first few games of the season are going to be the most heavily scrutinized games of the season because there is nothing else to look at. If you had a tough three-game stretch in the middle of July, but you've got three or four months' worth of games to back it up, any particular move or decision is not quite as alarming.

"We unfortunately have the combination of a rookie manager and a tough first three games, then an off-day, then a rainout, with nothing else to talk about. And that's why we are where we are. But I think Kap is going to be absolutely fine with managing the bullpen and I think our team is just as talented today as it was in Spring Training when we were all talking really positively about the club."

Arrieta, Hunter, Neshek, Leiter updates
Jake Arrieta threw 66 pitches in a simulated game Monday in Clearwater, Fla. He will pitch Sunday.

•Tommy Hunter, who is on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, also pitched an inning in Clearwater. He could be activated as early as Thursday.

Pat Neshek, who is also on the DL, is having an MRI on his right shoulder.

"Clinically, it doesn't appear that there is anything wrong," Klentak said. "But the tightness in his shoulder doesn't seem to be going away. So we are just going to play it safe, get him looked at, and make sure we can rule out anything bad."

Mark Leiter Jr. is receiving further testing on the strained flexor pronator in his right arm, but the Phillies said he is progressing well.

You've been warned
The Phillies have heard from Major League Baseball regarding Saturday's third-inning pitching change, when Kapler summoned Hoby Milner from the bullpen, except Milner had never been told to warm up.

"I don't think it really does any good trying to explain it away," Klentak said. "It happened. The thing that I'm pleased about is that Kap took responsibility for it right after the game. He owned up to it, and as far as I know, he's continued to do that. It [stunk], but we have to move on."

Pivetta will pitch the home opener
Because the Phillies did not play Monday, they pushed everybody back in their rotation. Nick Pivetta will start Thursday's home opener against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park. Vince Velasquez, who had been scheduled to pitch Thursday, will pitch Saturday.

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.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter