Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’

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.”

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Young Progressing, But Timetable Remains Unclear

Delmon YoungThe Phillies said last month they hoped to see Delmon Young play in a Spring Training game before they headed north to Philadelphia on March 28.

That is not going to happen, but Young continues to progress from microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November. He worked out in the outfield for the first time today. He also ran the bases with the athletic training staff monitoring him.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said Young could face live pitching in a simulated game sometime in the next week.

“I’m just going day by day,” Young said before his workout. “If I feel good then we’ll keep going along. If I don’t then we’ll back off. I really don’t know yet. But I feel good. I’m happy with the progress. You want everything to happen right away, but you know it’s going to take time to build back up.”

Amaro said there remains a chance Young will rejoin the Phillies before May 1, but he wouldn’t say if his timetable has been pushed back or not.

Betancourt Decision Coming Soon

Yuniesky Betancourt

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the competition for the team’s two utility infield jobs remains wide open with less than a week remaining before they need to make a decision.

Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt are fighting for those jobs, but because Betancourt has an opt-clause he must be informed by Sunday if he has made the 25-man roster. If he has not, he can ask to be released.

Galvis is hitting .273 (15-for-55) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs and eight RBIs. He is the best defender of the three, and Charlie Manuel has been vocal in his support. Frandsen has had a good spring offensively, hitting .298 (14-for-47) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs. Betancourt went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in today’s 17-10 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium. He is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with three doubles and nine RBIs.

“I think they’ve all played well enough to be on our club, so it has to be wide open,” Amaro said, “Defense is still important, but obviously it’s the total package of the player. All three of them have played very well. I’m happy with all three of them.”

Asked if he can make up his mind in the next six days, Manuel said, “I can make up my mind in two seconds.”

But has he?

“No, I haven’t,” Manuel said. “Everything comes into play. It kind of depends on where we want to go and what we see on our team. Really. We’ve got a good battle there, man.”

Phillies: Doc Sick, But Otherwise Heathy

Roy HalladayRoy Halladay is still sick.

He lasted just one inning yesterday in a Grapefruit League game against the Orioles at Bright House Field. That followed 2 2/3 innings Tuesday, when he struggled terribly and said he felt lethargic because of a more intense workout program and because he threw two bullpen sessions in between starts.

Everybody maintains Halladay is healthy, other than the illness that got the best of him.

“We’ve just got to get him healthy so we can get him back on the mound,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said today at Champion Stadium, referring to Halladay’s sickness.

Understandably, there are many skeptics out there. Halladay struggled in 2012, fighting back and shoulder problems. He pronounced himself fit during a press conference in February. He looked pretty good in his first two Grapefruit League starts before seeing a drop in velocity in his third. His fourth start Tuesday raised red flags.

“Obviously we want to get him on the mound and get him his reps, but we can’t do anything about him being sick,” Amaro said.

Asked again if Halladay is healthy, Amaro said, “Yeah. There is no indication that he’s suffering from any discomfort or anything like that. That’s good.”

Asked if he is confident Halladay can make 30-33 starts this season, he said, “I am. Listen, we’ll find out as he continues to pitch, but Doc’s confident and we’re confident in him. We’ll just have to see how it plays out. Right now we’re more concerned about him getting healthy so he can get back on the mound.”

Delmon Young to Step Up Rehab

Delmon YoungDelmon Young took the redeye from Los Angeles to Tampa last night, and showed up in the Phillies clubhouse early this morning at Bright House Field. He came straight from the airport to the clubhouse after sleeping on the plane.

He took batting practice with his teammates a short time later.

“That was the first time I had someone throwing to me since the last World Series game,” he said.

That must have been nice, right?

“It’s batting practice,” he said. “I really don’t care too much to hit on the field.”

But Young got good news in Los Angeles, where the doctor that performed the microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November told him that he can progress his rehab. That includes full-weight bearing on the treadmill, participating in batting practice and standing in the right field to get acclimated to fly balls. That does not include shagging or making lateral movements, although that could come in the next week or so.

He didn’t get the fuss as he answered a few questions about his rehab and trip to L.A. in front of his locker today.

“You guys trying to write a soap opera here or something?” he said.

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Betancourt Could Get A Job On Phillies Bench

Yuniesky BetancourtThe Phillies signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a Minor League contract in January, and my Twitter feed quickly filled with stunned-and-confused comments about it. I guess it’s one of those things that happens these days. The Phillies sign a guy for organizational depth at relatively low cost and minimal risk and people freak out because he has a career .290 on-base percentage.

I mean, we’re talking about the 25th man on the big-league roster or Lehigh Valley’s possible everyday shortstop, but whatever …

But an interesting thing is happening in Clearwater: Betancourt is playing well and he could get one of the team’s two utility infield jobs.

Read the entire story here.

What is especially interesting about the battle among Betancourt, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis is Betancourt has an earlier than usual opt-out clause for March 24. The Phillies must tell Betancourt by that date if he has made the 25-man roster. If he has not made the team, he can ask to be released. March 24 is a full week before the Phillies play their final exhibition game, so the Phillies will have to decide on that before they theoretically come to conclusions about the final three bullpen jobs or outfield situation. Like I wrote yesterday, I would not be surprised to see Betancourt and Frandsen start the season with the team. Galvis can be optioned to Triple-A, where he could get more seasoning with the IronPigs. Meanwhile, Betancourt and Frandsen can show what they’ve got with the Phillies. If either struggles, the Phillies could recall Galvis at that point.

Interestingly, Ruben Amaro Jr. said Betancourt’s ability to play defense is key. That’s interesting because Galvis unquestionably is the best defensive player of the three, but the fact he has options and the others don’t could tilt the jobs in their favor.

“You could probably say right now, even though he’s a young player, he’d probably be the most reliable guy [defensively],” Amaro said of Galvis. “But again, Yuniesky has got a lot of experience. It depends on how [Betancourt] performs. We’re not making any decisions today. We don’t have to make any decision for several weeks, so we’re OK.”

Will your head explode if Betancourt makes the team? If you said yes, take a deep breath and relax. Like I said, we’re talking about the last bench player here. The Phillies won the World Series with So Taguchi‘s .580 OPS on the bench in 2008. They won a National League pennant with Eric Bruntlett‘s .462 OPS on the bench in 2009. And they won a franchise-record 102 games with Michael Martinez‘s .540 OPS on the bench in 2011.

I’m not really sure which way the Phillies will go, but Betancourt is playing well enough early to make the front office think long and hard about it.

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MLB.com’s Richard Justice takes a look at the Phillies’ revamped bullpen.

Schwimer Traded to Toronto

Michael SchwimerThere is more to the Michael Schwimer trade than just a glut of relief pitchers in Phillies camp.

The Phillies announced today they traded Schwimer to the Blue Jays for Minor League first baseman Art Charles. Ruben Amaro Jr. said they shipped Schwimer to Toronto because they had depth in the bullpen, they needed to anticipate future roster moves and they needed power at the Minor League level. But Schwimer had fallen out of favor with the organization after he disputed the Phillies’ decision to send him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in August, claiming he was injured, although there also had been other issues.

It might be more accurate to call this trade addition by subtraction.

“He’s a great kid,” said Amaro, when asked if last season’s dispute sparked the trade. “There’s nothing wrong with Schwim.”

Schwimer said he agreed, but added one caveat.

“The Phillies want to win period so they’re not going to let any petty differences affect them wanting to win,” he said. “So in my opinion I think that had absolutely zero effect.”

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Could Adams Suffer Carpenter’s Fate?

Mike AdamsPhillies fans probably heard the Cardinals announce this week that Chris Carpenter might never pitch again.

Carpenter, 37, had surgery in July to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which involved removing a rib to alleviate pressure on a nerve near his right shoulder. He returned to pitch in September and told reporters last month, “I haven’t had any issues with my throwing or anything this year. I feel good. My shoulder feels good.”

But he suffered a season-ending setback last week, which included the return of numbness and discomfort in the right shoulder and neck area, bruising and discoloration in his right hand.

Those problems are relevant in Philadelphia because Phillies setup man Mike Adams, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in December, had the same surgery in October.

“We’ve talked to him. He said he’s doing great,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said today about Adams. “We’ll find out more when he arrives in Clearwater, and I think he’ll be arriving there fairly soon. He’s been throwing off the mound and he hasn’t had any issues. We’ll see how far along he is, whether he’s going to be behind in Spring Training or not. We don’t think so. But we’ll find out once he gets to Clearwater. Right now we don’t have any concerns, but we obviously want to make sure that he’s all right and progressing properly.”

It goes without saying the Phillies need Adams healthy. The eighth inning proved to be a mess last season with the Phillies blowing 13 leads.

But while Amaro acknowledged that signing Adams carried risks, he said this week’s news regarding Carpenter did not make him more concerned.

“Everybody’s situation is a little different,” he said. “All the information we got from our doctor and looking at the medical reports and such we felt … as always there’s a risk when guys are coming off a surgery like this, but we felt like it was a good risk.”

As of today, Amaro said outfielder Delmon Young will be the only player in camp definitely behind schedule, although that could change by the time pitchers and catchers have their first official workout Wednesday. Young is recovering from microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November.

“He won’t be able to get into real activities probably for a few weeks after we open up, at least,” Amaro said. “He might not be able to play in games competitively until the middle of March. We don’t know that, but we’ll see how he progresses once we see him.”

Amaro said right-hander Mike Stutes, who had shoulder surgery in June, should be “100 percent, we believe. He shouldn’t be any issue at all. He’s been throwing bullpens for a while.” Left-hander Raul Valdes had right knee surgery in September. Amaro also said he doing well.

“He’ll be close to 100 percent,” he said.

Both pitchers will be competing for bullpen jobs.

Hamels: I’m Fine, Ready to Go

Matt Cain,Cole Hamels gave a few Phillies fans a moment of panic earlier this month when word spread he suffered from a sore left shoulder late last season.

Hamels’ reaction when asked about it tonight?

“I don’t know of anything that happened,” he insisted. “I’ve been healthy. That’s the last thing on my list. … I haven’t felt anything of that sort. That’s the honest truth. I don’t know. I wasn’t the one that started it. I know I feel good and I’m ready to go. That’s all I can really answer. That’s kind of where it is. Same program, ready for Spring Training and finally getting out of the cold. That will be a lot nicer. I’m very excited.”

Ruben Amaro Jr. earlier this month addressed a report that said Hamels suffered from a sore shoulder. Amaro said the Phillies shut down Hamels’ throwing program for a couple weeks and has been fine since.

Amaro said the Phillies never considered it an issue, pointing out Hamels never visited a doctor. Hamels said the same thing. So while Hamels felt something in the shoulder in September he considered it typical soreness from the grind of the regular season and nothing more. That seems to be why there is a discrepancy in what Hamels said. Typically when a pitcher complains of shoulder soreness it means he cannot pitch, but Hamels apparently never felt that way.

If Hamels is fine that certainly is good news for the Phillies. Hamels, 29, signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer and they need him healthy if they expect to return to the postseason in 2013.

Hamels said he planned to throw his fourth offseason bullpen session Wednesday. He plans to head to Clearwater, Fla., sometime next week.

Nothing to See Here? Keep Moving?

Is there anything to worry about here?

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today left-hander Cole Hamels’ shoulder is fine. CSNPhilly.com reported Hamels had some shoulder soreness late in the 2012 season and early in the offseason. But the Phillies shut down Hamels’ throwing program for a couple weeks and has been fine since, Amaro said.

“We really weren’t concerned,” Amaro said. “If we were concerned or had any concern then he would have or would be seeing a doctor. We had none of that. If there are problems that come up in Spring Training then we’ll deal with them. But there is no indication that Cole has an issue right now.”

The Phillies hope so. Hamels, 29, signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension last summer and they need him healthy if they expect to return to the postseason in 2013.

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