Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Amaro not worried about Phillies' perception

Ruben Amaro Jr. expressed no worry about his team's perception in the wake of a former draft pick's suspension following an NCAA investigation that started with a tip from a Phillies employee.

Amaro not worried about Phillies' perception

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. Jr. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro. Jr. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ruben Amaro Jr. expressed no worry about his team's perception in the wake of a former draft pick's suspension following an NCAA investigation that started with a tip from a Phillies employee.

"I think people know we do things professionally and the way we go about our business," Amaro said Saturday. "So I think our reputation is very good."

Oregon State lefthander Ben Wetzler was suspended for 11 games. Wetzler, the NCAA said, used an agent who attended meetings with the Phillies and negotiated potential contract terms. The Phillies did not sign Wetzler, their fifth-round pick last June, and took the unusual step of reporting him.

The club released a 36-word statement before Amaro answered seven questions. "The Phillies did participate in the NCAA investigation and a ruling has been issued," the statement read. "We believe it is inappropriate to comment further on either the negotiation with the player or the action taken by the NCAA."

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Amaro said he was aware of the incident when it was raised last November. When asked if the decision to report Wetzler was cleared by the general manager himself, Amaro said, "I was aware, that's all I can say."

Earlier in the week, Amaro referred all inquiries to assistant general manager Marti Wolever, who runs the team's amateur draft process. Wolever, Amaro said, will remain in that role. He was not available for comment.

It was unclear whether any team employees were punished for the incident.

The university will appeal the ruling. It issued a caustic, 821-word release late Friday night that questioned the intentions of the NCAA and its "no-agent" bylaw. Steve Clark, Oregon State's vice president for university relations and marketing, said it was the school's "understanding" the Phillies' snitching spurred the investigation.

He would not detail the NCAA's evidence.

"If in fact this is true, that the Phillies were the folks that did this, we're disappointed," Clark said by phone. "Not because it's our student-athlete, but there is some inconsistency here."

The last known instance of a major-league team reporting a violation to the NCAA, according to Baseball America, was in 1992 when the White Sox turned in A.J. Hinch.

The Phillies, industry experts say, could encounter blowback from prospective draftees, their coaches and agents. The team could portray this as an isolated incident to any interested parties. They could send Pat Gillick, a senior advisor and Hall of Famer, to mend relationships in the Pacific Northwest, where he maintains strong ties.

Wetzler's 11-game suspension represents 20 percent of Oregon State's season. The Phillies also reported Washington State outfielder Jason Monda, who was cleared of any wrongdoing prior to his senior season.

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