Philadelphia Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler learned a tough spring training lesson this week.
Never park your car within 500 feet of any home plate — practice fieldor otherwise — where major league players and hopefuls are taking batting practice.
As we’ve seen many times in the past, it’s a recipe for losing your windshield. Or, as in Kapler’s case, discovering a baseball-sized dent on the roof of your rented Ford Explorer.
Kapler paid the price for his mistake on Tuesday when young shortstop Nick Williams blasted a BP home run that reportedly traveled over 430 feet. The home run easily cleared the right field wall at Mike Schmidt Field, which is one of the many practice fields at the Phillies complex in Clearwater, Fla.
Certainly, it’s the most fitting location for a batting practice session as impressive as Williams’ was reported to be.
Of course, Williams was also a little nervous about the reaction of his manager once it was confirmed he’d nailed his rental car. But to the surprise of few, Kapler was actually the happiest camper around just knowing one of his players is crushing the baseball.
“I would trade a Nick Williams home run for a dent in a rental car any day of the week,” Kapler told the media after Tuesday’s session.
“I’m glad he said that,” Williams told NBC Sportsnet Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury on Wednesday morning, “because it felt kind of good to hit it.”
Williams, 24, flashed some of his power after being called up to the major leagues last June. In 83 games for Philadelphia, he launched 12 homers. That’s not quite as impressive as the 18 homers Rhys Hoskins hit in 50 games following his callup, but it further solidifies that the Phillies have some impressive young hitters who are poised to dominate baseball.
That’s one of the many reasons why Kapler was excited to take the Phillies job in the first place.
As for his plans to better protect his rental car for the rest of spring training, Kapler doesn’t have one. Instead, it seems he’s hoping a few more dents will be added.
“We’re going to make it a bull’s-eye for him,” Kapler said. “That’ll be a running joke. It’s a great way to build relationships. It’s part of the whole scientific plan to make this work.”
For the first time in several years, Phillies camp sounds like a fun place to be.
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