PHILADELPHIA — Alec Bohm, competent third baseman for the National League champion Phillies, learned an important lesson this year after playing in a game against the Mets.
In one of the more bizarre sequences of their and his season, during a game in April, Bohm committed three throwing errors in three innings on ground balls by Starling Marte, James McCann and Pete Alonso. Between the second and third oopsies, after he looked unsteady but successfully recorded an out, the Philly fans sarcastically cheered. Then he was caught on camera saying, “I [expletive] hate this place.”
But Bohm doesn’t hate this place anymore.
Among the developments that have marked the Phillies’ improbable run to the World Series is Bohm’s improvement at the hot corner. He has risen from ugly to adequate, plain to see even to the untrained eye.
Spurring the turnaround, he said, was that mess against the Mets (which eventually ended in a wild Phillies comeback win).
“A lot of fear of failure and all that stuff kind of went out the window after that happened,” Bohm said. “Because I messed up about as bad as you can mess up. So I’ve done it before.
“I mean, the ball’s going to get hit at me, I’m either going to make the play or I’m not. I’m not going to sit over here and sweat about it and be out in the field worried about, ‘Oh, no, am I going to mess this play up?’ Like who cares at this point? I’m either going to do good or I’m not.”
The impact of . . . Jay Bruce
Did the Mets help these Phillies get where they are by acquiring Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano from Seattle in December 2018?
OK, that is obviously a stretch. But they sent Jay Bruce to Seattle in that deal, and the following June, the Mariners basically gave him to the Phillies in a minor trade. In playing for them through 2020, he apparently was an important veteran voice whose impact still is noted.
That is according to J.T. Realmuto, who immediately mentioned Bruce when asked which teammate who is no longer with the team helped shape this core.
“He’s the first name that comes to mind for me,” Realmuto said. “He was one of those clubhouse guys that we all took something from him and learned from him and saw how he treated everyone and how he showed up every day to go to work. We all strive to be the teammate that he was.”
After each Phillies postseason win, Bruce has sent an encouraging text to the group of guys he played with, Realmuto said.
Deal for deGrom?
Take it from Zack Wheeler, former Met who got paid in free agency by the Phillies: Jacob deGrom, current Met about to reach free agency, also deserves to get paid.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but I know he wants to win,” Wheeler said of his friend and former rotation-mate. “I think he deserves a little better than what he’s getting contract-wise.”
DeGrom has said he plans to opt out of the last guaranteed year and $30.5 million of his contract after the World Series ends. If the winds up leaving the Mets, it would create a significant vacancy on and off the field, according to Wheeler.
“It leaves a big hole, but Steve [Cohen] obviously is willing to spend, so who knows what kind of replacement he can get in there? Via trade or free-agent signing,” Wheeler said. “I think it would leave a big hole for sure. He’s been there forever. It would leave a hole in the clubhouse and definitely on the mound.”
‘That same goofy kid’
Two of Alonso’s Tampa, Florida, high school teammates are on the Astros: righthander Lance McCullers Jr. and rightfielder Kyle Tucker.
What was a teenage Alonso like? McCullers and Tucker had the same answer: “That same goofy kid.”
“Loves everyone he’s around and loves playing baseball,” said Tucker, who was two classes behind Alonso.
“Pete was more of a really strong back-side hitter back then,” McCullers said. “Super- uncommon, because everyone [at that age] is just about hitting the ball hard, as far as you can. Pete always had that really beautiful, compact, inside-out type of swing. It reminded me a lot of Derek Jeter’s swing but with thump.”