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February 14, 2014 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. - While most of the 27 other pitchers in camp got their arms in motion, half of them preparing to throw off the mounds, Cole Hamels played catch at a shorter distance. He's behind the rest of the pitchers in camp, just as he said he would be a day earlier. He hopes to throw his first bullpen session before the end of next weekend. Hamels, who is throwing pain-free after battling biceps tendinitis in November, is unconcerned and believes he can play catch-up, even if he's not able to take the ball on Opening Day. The man who signed Hamels to the richest contract in Phillies history also isn't worried.
SPORTS
January 16, 2014 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
On top of a bookcase in one corner of Ruben Amaro Jr.'s office, there is an arrangement of champagne bottles, with cork and foil in place and commemorative labels marking the occasions. They are lined up like soldiers in silent formation, offering a salute to division titles and playoff clinches and pennant winners and one amazing run to a World Series championship. The bottles aren't dusty - that would be too easy a metaphor - but they haven't gotten recent company, either, something that Amaro and the Phillies spend every day at Citizens Bank Park working to change.
SPORTS
December 23, 2013 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
The reporters will gravitate toward Jonathan Papelbon's locker when pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater, Fla., in less than two months for the start of spring training. He is the surly elephant in the room, the highest-paid closer on a team that cannot afford such a luxury. He is the player the Phillies have attempted to trade for months. He is the one who, last July, called for sweeping organizational changes. Papelbon may say he did not pay attention to the winter talk. He could point to the team's health because spring breeds optimism.
SPORTS
December 20, 2013 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Phillies were never in the market for a mid-level starting pitcher, let alone a front-line one. The current prices for pitching would stretch the Phillies beyond their self-imposed $170 million payroll limit. So, desperate for another starter, Ruben Amaro Jr. sought an undervalued commodity. "We think Roberto Hernandez will help us," Amaro said. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters and we felt like he would be a good choice for us. " Hernandez's $4.5 million deal was made official Wednesday when he passed a physical in Philadelphia.
SPORTS
December 20, 2013 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
THREE YEARS AGO, Ruben Amaro Jr. could barely walk out of his house to fetch the mail or sneak out of a hotel for a cup of coffee without hearing the same question over and over and over. Why did you trade Cliff Lee? The back-and-forth with the fans back then, however, was mostly in good fun. The Phillies were fresh off back-to-back World Series appearances and even though they had traded Lee, the Phillies did add Roy Halladay, arguably the best pitcher in the game. Three years later, the Phillies are not coming off consecutive World Series appearances.
SPORTS
December 16, 2013 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
There is time for Ruben Amaro Jr. to make the following words trivial. Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater on Feb. 12, so the Phillies have a little less than two months to amend the Winter of Indifference. Chatter among the baseball world at last week's winter meetings sounded like, "What, exactly, is the Phillies' plan?" Then again, this franchise has operated rudderless since July 31, 2012. You remember that day, the day the Phillies traded two-thirds of their outfield in the name of "payroll flexibility" and "deeper inventory.
SPORTS
December 13, 2013 | By David Murphy, Daily News Staff Writer
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Believe me, Ruben Amaro Jr. was saying, I like hitting home runs. He was sitting in the hotel suite that the Phillies front office is using as its headquarters here at baseball's winter meetings. He was speaking figuratively, and he was not lying. Since inheriting the reins of the organization 5 years ago, Amaro has swung for plenty of home runs in the month of December. Raul Ibanez, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee. In some respects, each was a luxury, a gratuitous addition to a roster that was already teeming with talent at the position in question.
SPORTS
December 13, 2013 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Late for another meeting, Ruben Amaro Jr. dashed from the ninth-floor Phillies suite at the Walt Disney Dolphin Hotel on Wednesday afternoon. The general manager is searching all corners of the winter meetings for starting pitching. Two more options, Bartolo Colon and Edinson Volquez, were snatched by other teams within the next two hours. "We've laid some groundwork," Amaro said. "That doesn't mean we're necessarily going to get anything done. " The Phillies may leave here Thursday with nothing but a player taken in the Rule 5 draft (they are undecided on whether they will even select someone)
SPORTS
December 12, 2013 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - Roy Halladay's decline, declaring for free agency and then sudden retirement on Monday was a stark reminder of a glaring hole that still remains on the Phillies' roster. The rotation still needs a replacement for Halladay, and starting pitching depth in general. So when rumors of the Phillies listening to trade offers for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee swirled through the hallways and conference rooms at Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort yesterday morning, it was pretty difficult to take them seriously.
SPORTS
December 12, 2013 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The two men spoke loudly enough in the ninth-floor hallway so everyone could hear. A day's worth of trade rumors at these winter meetings spiraled around the Phillies, and team executives found them humorous. They planned a skit. "We can't trade Cole," Ruben Amaro Jr. said to Scott Proefrock, his top lieutenant. They both smirked. "No," Proefrock said, "we're trading Lee!" The Phillies do not possess many tradeable assets in their quest to remedy a 73-win team; Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are two of the game's best lefthanded pitchers and would interest many teams.
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