Updated: 8:15 p.m.
CHICAGO - Phillies reliever Pat Neshek on Tuesday addressed a misconception that he was not available to pitch in the eighth inning of Monday night's game against the Cubs.
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In fact, Neshek made it clear: He was available to pitch. By the time he was ready to come into the game, however, the call came from the dugout that he would not be brought into the game.
The bullpens at Wrigley Field are under the bleachers and not visible to fans. However, there are television cameras in the bullpen and those cameras caught Neshek shaking his head "No," as he warmed up. It was easy to infer from the shot that Neshek was saying he was not available to pitch. Not the case, he said, adding that the camera caught him making just his second toss from the mound and he was merely telling pitching coach Jim Gott that he was not ready yet.
"It looked really bad on TV and people were like ‘Neshek isn't ready,' " the pitcher said. "If (critics) are going to characterize me as ‘I'm not coming into the game,' then know that was my first pitch. No one saw when the phone call (to initially get up) was made.
"(Manager Gabe Kapler) got me up on a 1-0 pitch on (Jason) Heyward. That's when I got the call. I got on the mound and threw two pitches and then he called down. That's what they showed on TV. He said, ‘Is he ready?' And I said ‘No. I'm not ready yet. I've thrown two pitches.'"
Neshek said the dugout wanted to know if he was ready for Albert Almora Jr., who followed Heyward. Seranthony Dominguez, who walked the first two batters of the inning, stayed on and Almora bunted. That brought up Daniel Descalso, who tripled home two runs.
Neshek said he was "good to go" for Descalso, but Kapler decided to stick with Dominguez. After the game, Kapler said he targeted Neshek for Addison Russell. He ended up sticking with Dominguez on Russell. Dominguez ended up getting out of the inning, but the lead was gone. The Phillies eventually tied the game in the ninth and won it the 10th on a homer by J.T. Realmuto.
After the game, Kapler indicated that he was trying to be careful with Neshek because the pitcher said he "was a little sore" before the game. On Tuesday, Neshek said the soreness was normal, fatigue-related soreness and not an injury.
Neshek is 38 and a veteran of Tommy John surgery. He missed time last season with a shoulder injury. His workload needs to be monitored, but he emphasized he was ready to go Monday night, even after pitching on Friday and Sunday.
On Tuesday, Kapler said Neshek did not shut himself down in the bullpen. The manager added that he would try to avoid using Neshek on Tuesday night, but would be willing to do so if the situation dictated.
"We'll look to be respectful of recent workloads," Kapler said. "(Neshek) has been up in the ‘pen a lot. We've gotten him up on multiple occasions. Sometimes those pitches can be as strenuous as game pitches and we're always trying to figure out how to evaluate getting loose in the ‘pen versus actually throwing pitches in the game. They can't be that far off. Those last couple of pitches that get you where you need to be can't be much different than a game pitch so I think we have to kind of respect those."
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