Matt Klentak acknowledges Ruben Amaro for leaving strong foundation

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Matt Klentak acknowledges Ruben Amaro for leaving strong foundation

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak is not a regular presence on the field during batting practice, but he did descend from the executive level at Citizens Bank Park to greet New York Mets bench coach Gary Disarcina, a former coworker in the Los Angeles Angels organization, before Friday night’s game.

Klentak also got a chance to chat with the Mets' first base coach — none other than Ruben Amaro Jr., the man who preceded Klentak as Phillies GM.

“It was nice,” Amaro said Saturday. “I’ve talked to him once or twice since I moved on. I remember texting him when he got the job. I congratulated him and wished him the best of luck. He’s been in front offices with Anaheim and Baltimore, he was in the Commissioner’s office, so we’ve talked over the years.”

During their conversation around the batting cage, Amaro complimented Klentak on the Phillies’ strong start.

“I said, 'It seems like things are going pretty good,’ and Matt said, ‘A lot of it is because of you,’” Amaro related.

The Phillies embarked on a teardown and rebuild in the fall of 2014 and Amaro was let go in September 2015. He did not leave the cupboard bare. In fact, eight of the players who were supposed to start Saturday night — including starting pitcher Zach Eflin and Odubel Herrera, the majors’ leading hitter — entered the organization as a draft pick, an international signing, a Rule 5 draft pick or a trade pick-up during Amaro’s time as GM. Klentak has acknowledged this fact before. To do it directly to his predecessor “was a very nice thing to say,” Amaro said.

Amaro also had a “nice chat” with Phillies manager Gabe Kapler during the pregame exchange of lineup cards Friday.

“I said, ‘How you doing?’ and he said, ‘Well, after that first week … it was a little bit of a rough first week, but after that, it’s been OK,’" Amaro said. “I told him, ‘Hey, just like any other place, and maybe more so than others, if you guys keep playing well the fans will really appreciate it and things will turn around.

“I told him, and this was actually something Matt and I talked about, too, the fans will start coming out more regularly. I mentioned that the Sixers and Flyers were over so the focus will be on the Phillies and the fans are going to see it’s a pretty darn good product and they’ll appreciate it and come out.”

This is Amaro’s second time back to Citizens Bank Park since his firing. He came in with the Boston Red Sox as their first base coach last season. This time, he said, everything feels a little more comfortable.

“Time heals a lot of stuff,” he said. “And the fans have been great. I get some boos, but I really don’t take a lot of heat. I flipped someone a ball (Friday night) and someone said, ‘You still love us, Ruben, and we love you, too.’ It was nice.

“During BP, I look around the stadium and I get nostalgic. Yeah, I really do. Actually, it felt really neat emotionally on Friday because I consider this home for me. I know I work for a different company and ballclub and I worked for a different ballclub last year, and I’m here trying to beat the Phillies, but I still consider Philadelphia home. That will never change.

“And this ballpark will always be special to me. I remember looking out on the field that first year (2004) when we came back from Clearwater and seeing that grass on the field and thinking, ‘Holy Smokes, this is so cool. Look at the grass. This is our ballpark now.’ That was a moment, a big moment.

“So this place will always be special.”

Amaro has often said he wished he could have stayed around to see the rebuild through. Instead, Klentak gets to see it through. He has made changes along the way, but much of Amaro’s foundation remains. In fact, Eflin, who was scheduled to pitch before Saturday night's game was rained out, came in the first trade Amaro made after the team embarked on its rebuild.

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

Jake Arrieta upset with Bryce Harper for ejection, sounds off on 'flat' Phillies

NEW YORK — Jake Arrieta slammed the shelf above his locker at Citi Field, still peeved moments after speaking with reporters.

Arrieta pitched relatively well in the Phillies' 5-1 loss to the Mets (see observations). The source of his anger was an untimely ejection of the Phillies' best player, Bryce Harper, in the top of the fourth inning, combined with an overall "flat" performance from the Phillies' offense.

The 33-year-old former Cy Young winner didn't mince words. He didn't rush to defend Harper or belabor the quick hook of home plate umpire Mark Carlson, who tossed Harper for arguing balls and strikes in the Phillies' dugout.

"He's got to understand, we need him in right field," Arrieta said. "I don't care how bad the umpire is. He wasn't great for either side. I'm out there trying to make pitches, he misses some calls. So what? We need him out there. 

"We were flat from start to finish. Two-hour delay, it doesn't matter. We have to be ready to play. We weren't and it showed.

"It's troubling. I'm out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me and they weren't."

Harper was upset during his own fourth-inning at-bat, which ended in a called strike three. One of the pitches to Harper was slightly out of the strike zone, up and away. Four batters later, Hernandez took a pitch high and out of the zone, even more so than the one to Harper. It was called a strike and Harper said something that was deemed by Carlson to be over the line. In a blink, and before any warning was issued, Harper was sent to the showers.

"He made a comment when he was in the batter's box and then he made a comment as he left the batter's box after he struck out," Carlson said after the game. "What he said warranted an automatic ejection."

From Carlson's perspective, Harper's comment was personal and involved foul language.

The ejection was the 12th of Harper's eight-year career, second-most among active players to Matt Kemp. "I'm usually zero to 100," he said. "If you look at all my ejections, it's usually pretty calm and then bam, once it happens, I try to let it out I guess."

Sometimes, a moment like that can galvanize a team, create some positive energy. It didn't on this night. After Harper's ejection, Hernandez singled, then the next 16 Phillies went down in order to end the game.

"Emotionally, it should have given us a boost but it didn't," Arrieta said. "We were flat. The dugout was flat. The defense wasn't good. We didn't throw the ball well as a staff overall. We got beat."

Arrieta would have preferred Harper showed more restraint.

"We need him in right field. I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts.

"He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.

"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."

Arrieta is clearly one of the leaders on this team and he was clearly delivering a message to Harper and his teammates Monday night. The pitcher had not yet talked with Harper before speaking to reporters.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games. At 12-10, they are tied with the Mets atop the NL East. The Phillies have played 15 of their 22 games against NL East teams and have gone 9-6.

"I said it from the start. This first month was pretty important, with all the divisional games," said Rhys Hoskins, whose 401-foot home run was the Phillies' only run. 

"I don't think anybody in here is hitting the panic button at all. We've been pretty good at bouncing back. I think all of us in here are feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow. We're fine."

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Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced

Mets 5, Phillies 1: Bryce Harper ejected, Phillies' offense silenced


NEW YORK — Bryce Harper got tossed, the Phillies' offense went silent, and following a 95-minute rain delay, the Phils were defeated 5-1 Monday night by the Mets.

Harper got the hook for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the fourth inning. Cesar Hernandez took a high pitch out of the zone that was called a strike and Harper said the magic words, resulting in an ejection from home plate umpire Mark Carlson. 

It was the 12th ejection of Harper's eight-year big-league career.

The Phillies have lost four of their last five games and are 12-10. The Mets have the same record.

Huge difference a week makes

Last Tuesday, all eight Phillies Steven Matz faced reached base and came around to score. He didn't record an out.

Facing the Phillies for a second straight start Monday, Matz dealt. Over six innings, he allowed one run on three hits and struck out six, including four K's the first four times he faced Harper and Andrew McCutchen.

Can't cash in

The Phils clearly miss Jean Segura, as any team would. Losing one hitter really can make a profound impact on a lineup, especially when he has the bat-to-ball skills and .328 batting average Segura has provided. On this night, it forced Gabe Kapler to move J.T. Realmuto up to the two-hole, which weakened the five- and eight-spots with Maikel Franco also moving up.

The Phillies' best run-scoring opportunity came in the third inning when Cesar Hernandez doubled, Aaron Altherr walked and Jake Arrieta sacrificed them over to second and third. McCutchen struck out and Realmuto grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies' only run came on a 401-foot home run from Rhys Hoskins, again on a low pitch. Hoskins demolished an 84 mph changeup to left-center field and it barely went out because of the wind. On a normal night, it might have gone 430.

Can't blame Arrieta

For the fourth consecutive start, Arrieta pitched into the seventh inning. He couldn't complete seven innings this time, being pulled after allowing a leadoff single.

Through five starts, Arrieta is 3-2 with a 2.65 ERA. He struck out seven Mets, five looking.

He kept the Phillies in the game and didn't allow much hard contact but received just the lone run of support.

Injury updates

It sounds like Segura will return Saturday when he is first eligible to be activated from the 10-day IL.

Odubel Herrera may require a few additional days.

Scott Kingery is farther away. The Phillies won't have a timetable for another few days.

All three are dealing with hamstring injuries of varying degrees.

Up next

Zach Eflin (2-2, 3.68) opposes Zack Wheeler (1-2, 6.35) at 7:10 p.m. on NBCSP+.

The Phillies will want to take advantage of missing both Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in this series.

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