Pat Gillick says Ruben Amaro Jr. 'absolutely' will be back

(Len Redkoles/Getty Images file photo)
(Len Redkoles/Getty Images file photo)
Posted: September 04, 2014

ATLANTA - Before he ascended to interim president of the Phillies, Pat Gillick spoke with Ruben Amaro Jr. two or three times a week on the phone. Gillick, a Hall of Fame executive, served from his Seattle home as a sounding board for Amaro. Little will change now that Gillick, 77, is Amaro's boss.

"Ruben and I mutually agree on most decisions that we make," Gillick said Tuesday at Turner Field. "Ruben is very inclusive on any decisions that we make for the ball club. But right now, if there's something I might have a different opinion, I'll certainly voice that opinion, and we'll talk it through and try to make what we think is the correct decision."

Gillick, who will spend the next three weeks around the team for an evaluation, is filling in for David Montgomery, who is fighting cancer. He does not anticipate sweeping changes. He reaffirmed the status of both Amaro, his general manager, and manager Ryne Sandberg. They "absolutely" will stay in their current positions for 2015, Gillick said.

"They're under contract," Gillick said. "Ruben is under contract through '15, and Ryne's under contract. . . . So right now there's no thought whatsoever of replacing either one."

He will share baseball decisions with Amaro, although Gillick can overrule him. A member of the Phillies ownership group contacted Gillick last week to extend the CEO offer. Gillick does not plan to move from Seattle to Philadelphia but acknowledged those plans could change if Montgomery's absence lengthens.

"I'm just here to keep a steady hand on the rudder," Gillick said.

Mike Stiles, the team's senior vice president for administration and operations, will run the Phillies' day-to-day business matters.

Gillick said he will have "part of the final say" in baseball matters. He identified ownership as the other part.

"We want David back as soon as possible," Gillick said. "So that point, I'm an interim caretaker. But at the same time, if there are decisions that have to be made from a baseball standpoint, we're going to make those decisions."

He declined to call the Phillies' situation "rebuilding," citing the lack of dominating teams in baseball.

"A tweak here or a tweak there might make you a little more competitive," Gillick said.

He endorsed the team's current player-development and scouting staffs.

"Let me put it this way," Gillick said. "If you said at one point, would you like to have Ryan Howard and Jimmy [Rollins] and [Carlos] Ruiz and [Chase] Utley on the field, guys would have said, 'Yeah, I want them on the field.' That's the right decision. Maybe we pushed them a little too far, but as far as identifying the players to be on the field, I think our people [succeeded]. Those are guys that all came through the Phillies system.

"Nobody would say you're stupid to have those four guys or Cole Hamels on the field. We made the right decisions. It's just that at this point, we're kind of thin up top [in the minors], and some of the changes we have to make, we're going to have to make it in more of a creative manner than maybe drawing on the farm system."

Gillick preached patience but admitted it is "one of the more difficult things to do in professional sports." He echoed Montgomery's statements from earlier in the summer, when he judged the current front office by its entire body of work.

"These are basically the same people that made the decisions when we won five division championships from 2007 through 2011," Gillick said. "These are the same people making the decisions. Ryne wasn't here, but Ruben was here. All of a sudden, he didn't get dumb overnight. It's just right now we're in a situation where we know where we're headed, and it's going to take some time to get us where we want to go."


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb www.inquirer.com/

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