Players share the blame in Girardi's firing: ‘We haven't played to best of our ability'


A sense of culpability was felt in the Phillies clubhouse after Joe Girardi was fired as manager Friday.

"The players are playing," Rhys Hoskins said. "The coaches aren't playing. The players are playing.

"At the end of the day, it's about results and the results need to get better."

The Phillies, with a huge payroll, star players up and down the roster and big expectations to finally break a 10-year postseason drought, were 22-29 and 12 games back in the NL East when Girardi learned of his fate in a morning meeting with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

The players learned the news a short while later in an official group text message.

"The way I look at it is it always comes down to the players because we're the ones that have to play," Nick Castellanos said. "If the players were playing better, we'd have more wins and Joe would still have a job. Joe would still have a job because we'd have more wins. We haven't played up to our potential as a group and a unit.

"At the end of the day, winning fixes everything and we haven't won that much so things start to get shaken up looking for different results and, unfortunately, a man lost his job."

Players are responsible for their performance but the manager is responsible for the performance of his group.

It's that way in any walk of life.

The manager takes the heat when the group does not perform. That reality was reflected in some of Bryce Harper's comments.

"I think it definitely falls partly on the players," Harper said. "In all sports, any sport, the coach gets the dagger. It's usually partly on the players and partly on the staff, as well. As much as it's on us, it's on him, as well. It's on both of us and at this point he took it.

"It all comes down to winning, and we just haven't done that. As a team, there's blame on us, as well. There's not just blame on Joe. We haven't played to the best of our ability. We haven't done the things to be the team that we should be."

Rob Thomson moves from bench coach to interim manager.

With four months of season left, Dombrowski cited the need for a new voice in the clubhouse.

At the very least, Girardi's firing could be a kick in the butt for a sleepwalking team that has plenty of time remaining to chase a wild-card playoff spot even if the deficit in the division will be difficult to overcome.

"It better be," Castellanos said of the kick-in-the-butt possibility. "Because everybody in the clubhouse now knows that sh--'s not going well so changes were made. It's a sad day when somebody loses their job because we're not performing and I take that hard.

"Unfortunately, it's what happens when teams that are supposed to win don't win -- sad things like people losing their jobs happens."

As a man, Girardi was widely respected in the clubhouse.

"He's the type of person I hope I cross paths with in the future just because of the person he is," Hoskins said.

Harper mentioned what a good family man Girardi is. He said he spoke with Girardi by phone after the news came down. He said he thanked the former skipper.

"He's put a lot of effort, time into this game and organization trying to make it great and get us to where we need to be," Harper said. "I just wanted to let him know I was thankful for that because of the time he spends away from his family. I put blame on guys in this clubhouse, myself included."

Thomson is widely respected around baseball for his attention to detail, his knowledge of the game and an amazing work ethic. As bench coach, he was responsible for planning the daily activity of the team in spring training. He sometimes arrives for work in spring training as early as 2:30 a.m.

The 58-year-old baseball lifer met with the players Friday afternoon.

"He said he believes in us, he has our back and we're a talented group," Castellanos said. "He's ready and he's excited for this opportunity and we all can genuinely feel that."

Can the new voice help?

"He's been in this organization for five years now," Harper said. "He knows the ins and outs. He brings that new voice, maybe he's more open now since he is the manager and not the bench coach. I think we'll see more out of him.

"We're going to come in here, play the game the right way, play it hard. He's got our back when we need it. He just wants us to play the game we need to play and understand we're a really good team. We just have to go out there and play our game. Part of this decision (is because) we didn't play to the best of our ability. Sometimes it happens. Joe is unfortunately the guy who got sent home."

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