Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’

Howard Needs Surgery, Out 6-8 Weeks

Howard Hits 200, More on HalladayThe Big Piece is out.

The Phillies announced today Ryan Howard will have surgery to repair the torn medial meniscus in his left knee. He is expected to miss six to eight weeks from the date of the surgery, which has not been set. If Howard recovers as expected he could return to the lineup between late August and early September, but that is no guarantee.

“We have to take care of it,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He’s going to have to have a procedure. It’s just a matter of who does it and when.”

Howard had a MRI exam today, which revealed the tear. The tear is new. He had a MRI exam in May, but that revealed only a fraying of the meniscus.

Amaro said the tear is similar to one found in Erik Kratz’s left knee. The Phillies issued the same six-to-eight week recovery period for Kratz following his June 12 surgery. He began a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley and could rejoin the Phillies before the end of the week, which would put him two weeks ahead of schedule.

“He moved pretty quickly,” Amaro said of Kratz. “Hopefully we will have the same sort of timeframe. But everyone’s knee is different. We can only speculate the length of how long it will take to get him to rehab. We’ll shoot for the conservative one and hope he comes back faster.”

Howard had hit .266 with 11 home runs, 43 RBIs and .784 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 317 plate appearances before the injury. His presence in the lineup will be missed, but the Phillies are hoping rookie Darin Ruf will seize the opportunity.

Amaro said he expects Ruf to get the bulk of the playing time at first base while Howard is out.

Howard has a growing history of health problems with his left leg. Each of his four trips to the disabled list in his career have involved the left leg: strained left quadriceps in May 2007, sprained ligament in his left ankle in Aug. 2010, torn left Achilles in Oct. 2011 and now the torn meniscus in his left knee.

Howard also revealed yesterday he has a foot problem, although it is unclear how troublesome it is.

“He may have some discomfort there,” Amaro said. “I don’t know anything about his foot.”

The Phillies are hopeful the leg injuries have played a significant role in Howard’s decline offensively the past two seasons. Since the Achilles surgery he has hit a combined .244 with 25 home runs, 99 RBIs and a .752 OPS in 609 plate appearances over 151 games. He also has been one of the least productive hitters in baseball against left-handed pitchers.

Asked if the knee injury could be related to the Achilles injury, Amaro said, “It could have. Really, I couldn’t tell you that. It’s possible. Everything is connected.”

Amaro said the surgery will be scheduled after consulting with Howard’s agent, who will help them decide which doctor to perform the surgery.

“I’m encouraged,” Amaro said. “It could have been much more significant damage. We don’t want any of our players on the DL. But we know what it is and it’s treatable. Hopefully we can get him back in time to play this year.”

Stop Goofing Off: Amaro and Manuel Call Team Meeting

Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro, Jr.This is a huge homestand for the Phillies. Ruben Amaro Jr. said as much Friday.

So when Amaro and his fellow front office executives witnessed Cliff Lee and others screwing around during Jonathan Pettibone‘s in-game interview Saturday in an ugly 13-4 blowout loss to the Braves, they decided to call a team meeting.

Read about the meeting here.

While I don’t think goofing on Pettibone had anything to do with the blowout loss Saturday and while I believe players need ways to break up the monotony of a grueling 162-game schedule, I also get that appearances matter. The season is on the line. You’re losing to the Braves in a big series. Now might not be the time to stick a paper cup on Pettibone’s head with a wad of gum. But let’s be honest about this: none of this happens if the team is winning. If the Phillies are winning, bloggers are making .gifs from Pettibone’s interview and having fun with it. (They probably still will.) The front office probably doesn’t care. The manager doesn’t care. It might be even discussed in postgame interviews. (Those wacky Phillies are having so much fun out there!) Nobody would have thought twice about it. But the team is losing so things are looked at differently. That’s the way it goes.

If the Phillies get on a roll this will be forgotten pretty quickly. If they lose and there is a fire sale, this will be just another low point to the season.

Stay tuned …

Amaro: Next 10 Days Are Big

Ruben Amaro, Jr.Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. just spoke to reporters in the Phillies’ dugout. He got asked about the importance of this team’s upcoming 10-game homestand, including seven games against the Braves and Nationals. Here are a few highlights of that interview. Check phillies.com later for more.

Q: How do you view the importance of this series?
A: This homestand more than anything else is probably the bigger questions. Very important. We’ve got to play well to stay in contention, clearly. I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand.

Q: If you don’t have a good homestand could the makeup of the team be different shortly thereafter?
A: It could be. It could be. I hope we’re adding to this club than subtracting. That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying the same thing, the players will dictate it.

Q: Safe to say you have to have a winning record on this homestand? Does 5-5 cut it?
A: We’ll have to see. Probably, but we’ll have to see. But that depends how we get to 5-5, you know?

Q: Overstatement to say this homestand is make or break?
A: I don’t know. I don’t like to speak in absolutes all that much, but it’s an important one no question about it.

Q: Frustrating to see this team struggle?
A: Yeah, they’ve been a little enigmatic. I think this team has been a little bit of an enigma. We’ll see. We’ll find out more after this homestand, I think. These next 10 days are big.

Q: Do you view anybody on this team as an untouchable?
A: Some guys are a lot less touchable than others. But we’ll keep our eyes open, our ears open.

Q: How tough would it be to trade Chase Utley, considering his influence in this clubhouse?
A: Really tough. Really tough. Again, I see him as a Phillie for life. I’m not the most stubborn human being on the planet.

Mediocre Play in NL East Gives Phillies Hope

Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro, Jr.Ruben Amaro Jr. said today he sees the Phillies taking their deadline decisions all the way to the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Thank some relatively mediocre play in the National League East for that.

“The only reason why I say that is because it’s still really dicey,” he said in the visitors’ dugout at Dodger Stadium. “No one has really stepped out and gone crazy. We’re only seven back. We had one streak where we’ve really played well and we’ve only had a fairly brief time where we’ve had our team on the field. We’ll find out. I honestly think it’s going to end up going to July 20 or 30 or somewhere around then when we’ll decide which direction we’re going to go.”

The Phillies continue a 10-game road trip tonight with their series opener against the Dodgers. The Dodgers have been playing better recently, winning five consecutive games. Following the Dodgers series, the Phillies play a three-game series in Pittsburgh. The Pirates entered the night tied with the Cardinals for the best record in baseball.

The Phillies finish their play before the All-Star break with a 10-game homestand against the Braves, Nationals and White Sox.

But since the Braves started the season 12-1, they are just 33-33. The Phillies are 32-33 in that same stretch, while the Nationals are 31-32.

“We all get spoiled,” Amaro said. “We think that winning is just going to happen. We seem to forget that people have to perform for teams to win. It doesn’t happen on paper. You can make predictions all you want. The fact of the matter is, people have to play and you have to be lucky. Some teams get unlucky and some teams don’t get performance.

“Look at Cole Hamels. I would like somebody to tell me he would be 2-11. It’s hard to imagine. Same thing with Cliff Lee last year. Baseball is an amazingly crazy game. I still think (Hamels) is one of the best lefthanders in the game. It just hasn’t happened for him this year, for whatever reason. Performance. Luck. Mojo. It’s just a crazy game. We’d be talking about how you’re going to improve this team to make this run. We’d be having totally different discussions if we had small tweaks in performance.”

Amaro Backs Manuel; Here’s Why That’s Smart

Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro, Jr.Charlie Manuel said something interesting yesterday when asked if he thinks the Phillies have underachieved this season.

“No, I don’t,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we might be playing better than we could play.”

In other words, this team is playing equal to its talent or playing better than its talent, which is truly something considering the Phillies are 34-37 with the sixth-worst run differential (-48) in baseball. Of course, Ruben Amaro Jr. thought differently, and said the Phillies have not played to their capabilities.

So the general manager thinks the team has underachieved. The manager does not.

That brings me to the point of this post. I get tweets every day from Phillies fans saying, “Fire Charlie Manuel!” I got one last night when Manuel replaced Mike Adams with Antonio Bastardo to face Adam LaRoche in the eighth inning. If Bastardo doesn’t get this guy out, Manuel should be fired immediately! (Never mind it was the correct move.) Asked about Manuel’s job performance yesterday, Amaro said, “Charlie’s had a tough task just because, like I said, the team’s been a little incomplete. I think he’s tried to be creative with some of the lineup changes, shifting some people into the lineup. He’s doing everything he can to try to spark plug us and at some point it is up to the players to try to do it.”

It is wise Amaro sticks with Manuel through the end of the season because unless he is truly convinced the Phillies will play significantly better under new leadership, he only would be pointing more targets at himself. If he replaces Manuel and the team with the sixth-worst offense and seventh-worst pitching staff in baseball continues to lose, he will have fired the winningest manager in franchise history, one of only two managers in Phillies history to win a World Series, only to reinforce the opinion the personnel is bad, regardless of who is filling out the lineup card and making the pitching changes. And who supplies the talent? Who makes the trades, the free agent signings, the roster moves? Who gave Manuel this roster? Amaro.

Once the season is finished it probably is time for a new voice, especially if the Phillies miss the postseason for the second consecutive year. Sometimes a change just needs to be made, and Manuel has had a heck of a run. But before the end of the season? I just don’t see Ryne Sandberg or anybody else markedly improving a team that on paper — injuries or not (everybody has them) — is one of the worst in baseball. Good or bad, Manuel has earned the right to finish the season. He shouldn’t be fired because the front office’s offseason moves haven’t worked to this point and some of his core players continue to decline.

Doc Will Get His Chances

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for more than a decade, so he has earned the right to pitch through his problems, if he can.

The Phillies made that clear today at Citizens Bank Park, where Ruben Amaro Jr. said Halladay gets as long as he needs to correct himself, and Charlie Manuel said he is completely committed to his former ace.

Manuel offered an example of just how long his leash can be.

“You guys used to get on me about Brad Lidge,” he said, referring to Lidge’s 2009 season when he went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and 11 blown saves. “I used to look down there, and to me Brad Lidge was probably the best I had. If I was going to lose the game it was going to be Brad Lidge. I was committed to Brad Lidge. If I commit to you then I commit to you. And whatever happens is going to happen. That’s kind of how I look at it.”

Halladay has a ghastly 14.73 ERA through two starts, which follows struggles in Spring Training and struggles in 2012. He has allowed 12 hits, 12 runs, six walks, three home runs, one hit batter, two wild pitches and struck out 12 in just 7 1/3 innings this season.

Amaro and Manuel said they never considered holding back Halladay, having him pitch in extended Spring Training games before he was better prepared to pitch in the Phillies rotation. To have him pitch extended Spring Training games, the Phillies would have needed to place him on the disabled list, but Amaro said Halladay is not injured.

In fact, he said Halladay has not been on the team’s daily injury report once this year.

“Roy felt he was physically ready to go,” Amaro said. “There wasn’t anything real alarming.”

“Roy has earned the right to tell us how he feels, and how he wants to go about certain things when it comes to his routine and his pitching and things like that,” Manuel added. “We never once thought about shutting him down or nothing. I can tell you that. You know something else? Shutting him down ain’t the right way, either. I don’t see no way in the world, if he’s healthy and everything like that, we shut him down.”

Carrera In, Inciarte Out

Ezequiel CarreraThe Phillies believe they have found a more suitable fifth outfielder than Rule 5 Draft pick Ender Inciarte.

Today they claimed outfielder Ezequiel Carrera off waivers. He hit .272 with six doubles, three triples, two home runs, 11 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .707 OPS in 158 plate appearances last season with the Indians. The Phillies designated Inciarte for assignment to make room for Carrera on the 40-man roster.

Carrera, 25, is expected to be with the Phillies in time for Wednesday’s game against the Braves at Turner Field.

“He’s got a little more experience,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Offensively, he’s a little more advanced than Inciarte right now. Inciarte may have been a little better all-around defender, although we think Ezequiel’s got more speed. But his versatility and speed were important to us. Again, this is the 25th man, but we think we’ve marginally improved.”

The Phillies selected Inciarte in the Rule 5 Draft from the Diamondbacks. He impressed with his glove and speed early in Spring Training, although a couple errors late last month convinced the Phillies they needed more seasoned help in the outfield, especially considering Inciarte had never played above Class A in the Minor Leagues.

Because Inciarte, who did not play in Monday’s season opener, is a Rule 5 pick, the Phillies were required to keep him on the 25-man roster the entire season or risk losing him. If a team claims Inciarte off waivers they also must keep him on the 25-man roster the entire season. But if he clears waivers, the Diamondbacks have the option of bringing him back, although they would have to pay the Phillies $25,000, half of what the Phillies paid to select him in the draft.

“We didn’t like the idea of having to lose Inciarte as a result of this,” Amaro said. “But this is part of the game.”

The Diamondbacks are expected to reclaim Inciarte, although Amaro said they will try to work out a trade.

Indians manager Terry Francona said during Spring Training they knew they would lose Carrerra, who can play all three outfield positions, if they placed him on waivers.

“His speed impacts the game,” he said last month. “He’s got the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark occasionally. He can be an interesting part of the bench, when he can change a game with his speed. He’s a good little player.”

Betancourt Released; Galvis and Frandsen Win Jobs

Yuniesky BetancourtThe Phillies opened Spring Training last month with jobs available in the bullpen, outfield and infield.

They settled on their utility infielders today.

They announced they had released Yuniesky Betancourt as requested. He had hit .447 (21-for-47) with three doubles, one home run, 14 RBIs, a .451 on-base percentage and a .574 slugging percentage in 18 Grapefruit League games. The Phillies had signed Betancourt to a Minor League contract with an opt-out clause, stating they had to place him on the big-league roster by Sunday or release him if he requested it. His agent Alex Esteban said Betancourt officially requested his release.

The Phillies essentially chose Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen over Betancourt.

“This was the evaluation, right or wrong, of what we thought was best for our club,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Better to have this decision — too many players — than not having enough.”

(more…)

Amaro, Dubee Opine on Halladay’s Saturday

Roy Halladay’s start yesterday in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex drew plenty of attention.

He has had a rough month, struggling in starts because of dead arm, lethargy and illness, respectively. Then 11 of the 18 batters he faced yesterday reached base. He got just three swings and misses, with Triple-A hitters from the Toronto Blue Jays hitting numerous balls hard. His fastball consistently hit 87-89 mph on the radar gun, hitting 90 mph once in the first inning. He officially allowed three runs, although he had the bases loaded with two outs when the first inning got cut short after he reached his pitch limit.

Halladay insisted he felt fine and will be ready to go April 3 in Atlanta.

“He was OK,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

“After what he’s gone through, he was fine,” Rich Dubee said. “I’m not looking for results right now. The good part was he threw 80 pitches, he felt strong and felt like he could have thrown more. The arm slot was fine. He’s a ways from repeating it. Do you see anybody at their level yet? He’s not where he’s going to be yet. But I thought the velocity for not having pitched was good. He sat 88 to 90 consistently and finished the game at 89 almost 80 pitches into it. So arm-strength wise, that was good and he feels like there is more there. I think the more we get it right, the more it will come out.”

Ruf Optioned to Work on Defense

Darin RufDarin Ruf smiled brightly as he touched home plate this afternoon at Bright House Field.

He had just smashed a baseball onto the thatched roof of the mini-tiki bar in left field for a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Phillies a 7-6 victory over the Braves. The ball bounced off the roof, out of the ballpark and onto the MLB Network satellite truck below. It was a nice moment for Ruf, who had struggled early this spring as he competed for a job in the Phillies outfield. But before Ruf had a chance to enjoy the moment, the Phillies called him into manager Charlie Manuel’s office and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

“I’ll be pulling for him,” Manuel said. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll see him here (this season). It depends on how our offense goes. He’s capable of being a really good hitter.”

(more…)

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