In Monday night's game, Nick Williams was simply having a bad night. Already 0-for-3 on the night, Williams came to bat in the bottom of the eighth and hit a tapper right back to the pitcher, former major leaguer Ross Detwiler. For whatever reason, Williams decided to make his night worse by jogging out of the batter's box, with seemingly no intention of ever really reaching first base in any great hurry. He then took his time coming back to the dugout, where manager Dave Brundage had already decided that was the end of Williams' night.
The same scenario had played out just a couple of weeks before when Williams didn't run out a fly ball that wound up being dropped. Williams made it to first, but could have easily been standing on second in a game that the IronPigs trailed 4-2. After contributing to high tempers on the part of the Durham Bulls a couple days earlier by attempting to bunt with an 8-0 lead, Brundage had seen enough at that point, as well and pulled Williams out of the game.
For the first infraction, Williams was benched two games. Nobody knows how long Williams will sit this time around and Brundage wasn't going to clue in the media prior to Tuesday night's game, either. When Brundage was asked about the conflict following Monday's loss, he simply said he would leave it to Williams to explain. Williams told reporters that he didn't know why he got yanked, which Brundage disputed on Tuesday. For his part though, Brundage said that he wouldn't talk to Williams through the media and looked to leave the controversy behind.
Williams play, and his actions, have been erratic over the past six or seven weeks. Williams was hitting .299 coming into the month of May, but drew the ire of Brundage - and others - when he slid into home after hitting a home run against Pawtucket. Williams would hit just .267 in May, putting him at the .279 mark coming into this month. On June 11, both he and Crawford put on their impromptu bunting clinic in an 8-0 game that wound up leading Durham's Parker Markel to hit Brock Stassi in the leg with a 95 mile-per-hour fastball. He would later take two shots at hitting Crawford, who deftly danced out of the way, and Markel was ejected following the second pitch. Williams himself would later get hit by a pitch, as well.
The 22-year old Williams was in a 1-for-12 skid when he took his slow jog down the line on the fly ball against Gwinnett, leading him to get benched for the next couple of games. He returned somewhat rejuvenated and went on to rattle off an 11-game hitting streak that put his average back to .290 on the season. Then, there was the debacle last night, which ended with Williams giving his helmet a good toss down the tunnel between the dugout and the clubhouse.
It will be interesting to see if the Phillies dispatch any personnel to have a sit-down with Williams. The organization - and Williams - would be best served if this situation was quickly addressed, so Williams could get back to uninterrupted playing time. For those that think there's nothing to worry about, guess again. With all of the young players in the organization, they can't tolerate issues with any of them, risking the chance that those problems blow into larger issues with several players repeating the actions. Dave Brundage was right to bench Williams a couple weeks ago and he's obviously been given the blessing of the Phillies brass or he wouldn't have been allowed to again yank Williams late in a close game.