On Tuesday night, Cole Hamels joined the club. After serving up a game-tying home run to Asdrubal Cabrera to begin the eighth inning, Hamels saw Sandberg emerge from the dugout and didn't make eye contact with the manager as he made a quick handoff-and-run off the mound.
With the chance to clarify what had happened, Hamels, who had thrown six shutout innings before coming undone in the seventh inning, only heightened the possible issue afterward by refusing to answer whether he was upset with the manager.
"It was a good game that we won today," Hamels said Tuesday night, when asked whether he was angry with Sandberg or himself.
Hamels and Sandberg spoke yesterday.
"It wasn't a big deal," Sandberg said. "He was upset with what had happened in the seventh inning and he was upset with the leadoff home run when he had a chance to go deep in that game. But he knew that he was in there for an at-bat-at-a-time style of situation. And the home run erased that possibility."
But is it worrisome that this was the fourth time a player publicly showed he was upset with the manager in the span of less than 2 weeks?
"No, [Hamels] was upset about the home run," Sandberg said. "You know what, I gave him a verbal when I was about 6 feet from the grass. 'Hey, we're going to pick you up right here, Cole. Nice job.' So he thought that that was the release to let him go. I just clarified that with him."
Sandberg said he has dealt with others through similar conversations. When asked whether he currently had a handle on his clubhouse, the first-year manager said he did.
Then, is it only a case of competitive professional athletes upset during a season that they've spent in last place for most of the summer?
"First of all, we've had a real nice homestand," Sandberg said. "If we won tonight, we've had a very good homestand. So we're playing good baseball. We're playing hard. That's where the focus should be. Guys are playing good ball. And numerous guys are playing good ball. We're getting some good pitching, we're getting some good hitting, and we've beaten some teams on this homestand. That's a positive."
Earlier in the week, general Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked for his assessment of Sandberg.
"It's incomplete so far, because the season is not over," Amaro said. "He was given a tough task right out of the chute. There was an expectation for us to win. We have a lot of veterans who were, in some cases, underperforming. We had some young guys we were giving opportunities who we expected more from.
"It's been challenging for him. It's a great learning experience for him. He's still learning, and learning different ways to motivate and move the club forward. He's addressing things. He's learning how to handle the players on a daily basis. He's utilizing the staff well. We still have over a month to go. I'll know more about how he's done. So far I'm pleased with how he's handled things."
And as for the escalating slights from his players?
"He's addressing these things," Amaro said. "That's all I can ask of the manager. Some unfortunate comments, I think. In some case, some inappropriate comments on the players' part. But I think that's been handled."
Sandberg took over for Charlie Manuel a little more than a year ago, on Aug. 16, 2013. The Phillies are 81-94 over the first 175 games of Sandberg's tenure.
Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 100th save as a Phillie on Tuesday, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach the century mark. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Papelbon is the first pitcher in baseball history to record at least 200 saves with a team in one league (Boston Red Sox) and at least 100 with another team in the other league. Papelbon is tied with Brad Lidge for fourth in Phillies history. He needs two more saves to tie Mitch Williams (102), three to tie Steve Bedrosian (103) and only 13 more to pass Jose Mesa (112) as the Phillies' all-time saves leader . . .
Mike Adams (rotator cuff) is scheduled to pitch in his second minor league rehab game tomorrow at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Adams pitched a perfect seventh inning, striking out one, on Tuesday in Allentown, his first game in more than 2 months. He could rejoin the Phillies next month . . . John Mayberry Jr. (left wrist) returned for a checkup after playing six games at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He will continue his rehab assignment this weekend in Allentown and rejoin the Phillies on Monday in Atlanta . . .
The Phillies are off today. They will begin a nine-game, 10-day road trip tomorrow at Citi Field against the New York Mets.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21