Phillies Notes: Amaro says he's not ready to part with stars

Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee. (Genevieve Ross/AP)
Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee. (Genevieve Ross/AP)
Posted: June 16, 2013

DENVER - After Friday's game, the Phillies will play 38 more times before July 31, a day that is once again viewed as the reckoning. One of baseball's most expensive payrolls has underachieved for the second straight season. The general manager is steadfast in affirming his commitment to the current players, but what else should Ruben Amaro Jr. say in mid-June?

Reality crept upon these Phillies in the form of candid comments Thursday by Cliff Lee after a 3-2 victory in Minnesota. Lee came to Philadelphia to win. That has not happened with enough frequency, and his name will be attached to trade rumors until the deadline.

He is not alone. Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and others could interest contending teams. The Phillies believe they will be good enough to buy, not sell.

"Those guys signed here because they wanted to be here, that it was a good place to come for a chance to win," manager Charlie Manuel said Friday. "I think when I hear Cliff talk about wanting to play for a winner, no one in baseball wants to win more than I do. For us to win, we have to get better, improve. How we do that is another story, but at the same time, we have to play a lot better baseball than we have."

Lee was asked Thursday whether he wanted to stay in Philadelphia if the season did not improve.

"I definitely want to win," he said. "There's no doubt about that."

Because he did not answer the question, it was asked again.

"I want to win," Lee said. "I don't know how else to say it besides that. I want to win."

Once more, he was asked whether he was prepared to play out the string for a team not in contention.

"I don't have any control over that," Lee said. "I know that I want to win and I'll voice that to whoever. And that's that. I want to win here. That's why I signed here. And that's where my focus is."

Amaro did not return a phone call Friday requesting comment.

Earlier, however, he told "I don't see what the benefit would be to our organization to trade those players. They're players we've got who can help us win. And we're better off with them than without them."

A Detroit scout attended the Phillies game in Colorado and the Phillies dispatched Charley Kerfeld, special assistant to the general manager, to Minneapolis to watch the Tigers. The significance was unknown, although Detroit is in desperate need of a closer and Papelbon could be a target.

Utley hits. Chase Utley took batting practice with his teammates Friday for the first time since injuring his right oblique May 21. Utley will likely take BP for two or three days and then head to a minor-league rehab assignment. A return late next week remains the team's goal.

Rollins sits. After soaking in the hot tub, Jimmy Rollins searched for his manager. He told Manuel his bothersome hip, caused by a foot problem that altered his running, was too sore. He could not play.

Manuel said Rollins should be ready by Saturday.

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