Clearwater, FL– Loud music blares inside the clubhouse and several players gather to watch an intense battle during another round of the team’s pingpong tournament.
There’s a different vibe surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies this spring.
New manager Gabe Kapler has brought a new-school philosophy, a ton of energy and plenty of positivity to an organization that needed revitalization after five straight losing seasons.
“He’s the man,” shortstop J.P. Crawford said. “He’s the reason why this clubhouse is like this. He makes everyone feel comfortable and everyone wants to fight for him. He cares so much about us and that translates to us wanting to play for him and win for him and it’s great to have a manager like that.”
Kapler’s only previous managerial experience came in 2007 when he took a season off from playing in the majors to lead Boston’s Class A affiliate. He also coached Team Israel during the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifying period. But his progressive thinking was an attractive quality for Philadelphia general manager Matt Klentak.
Kapler has a fondness for analytics – an area the Phillies sorely lacked until Klentak came along. He embraces sports science to the point he had players start workouts at 11 a.m. early in camp to give them an extra hour of sleep. The staff is logging reps of everything from swings to throws to squats to sprints to make sure players don’t get overworked.
“We are going to focus on rest, recovery and our guys being the strongest versions of themselves,” Kapler said. “I don’t think there’s any value in getting to the ballpark when it’s dark just to get to the ballpark when it’s dark.”
Kapler is a believer in using video and pictures. He can be seen taking it himself on any of the practice fields.
“I think images are very powerful, video is very powerful and sharing images of people doing great work is a great way to endorse them,” he said.
Kapler inherits a team expected to put up big offensive numbers with a middle of the lineup featuring Rhys Hoskins, Carlos Santana, and Odubel Herrera.
(the Associated Press contributed to this post)