Phillies

Ceasefire: Zack Wheeler stops war of words with Mets general manager

Ceasefire: Zack Wheeler stops war of words with Mets general manager

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitcher Zack Wheeler refused to get into a war of words with his former general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen of the New York Mets.

“I don't want to make this go on any further,” Wheeler said Saturday morning. “I don't think it's meant to go on any further. We're two grown-ups here and we're battling like little kids."

“I think it got blown up a little bit out of proportion. I don't think it's anything too serious.”

Wheeler, a Met from 2013 to 2019, left New York in December for a five-year, $118 million free-agent deal with the Phillies. The right-hander was quoted in Friday’s New York Post as saying the Mets did not respond when he gave them a chance to match or top the Phillies’ offer.

“Crickets,” Wheeler said, adding, “It’s how they roll.”

That comment did not sit well with Van Wagenen. He returned the zing by crediting the Mets organization for “helping (Wheeler) parlay two good half-seasons over the last five into $118 million.”

Wheeler was amused by Van Wagenen’s return volley.

“He's taken a couple of things I said to heart, I guess, that I really didn't mean for him to do,” Wheeler said. “But I don't care.”

As for the dig about the Mets helping Wheeler land his big pay day …

“Take it with a grain of salt, I guess,” Wheeler said. “It is what it is. I don't care, personally. I'm happy here. This is where I chose to be at the end of the day, and I'm excited to get going with these guys.”

The Mets-Phillies rivalry was pretty good last year. Remember Jake Arrieta threatening to put a dent in Todd Frazier’s skull? It should be good again this season. In fact, it’s already off to a good start with this Wheeler-Van Wagenen stuff. The two teams meet for the first time March 30-April 1 in a three-game series in New York. Wheeler should get the ball one of those days, but don’t look for him to fan the flames of the rivalry any more this spring.

“You guys are going to get me in trouble,” he said, laughing with a group of reporters in the Phillies clubhouse Saturday morning. “It's going to be fun in the first place. Battling against my old teammates, friends, it's going to be a good time.”

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Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

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Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

Layoffs? Pay cuts? Phillies hope to avoid measures like that with full-time staff

The suspension of the Major League Baseball season due to the coronavirus health crisis has already hurt the revenues of all teams and will continue to do so as long as the game is shut down.

This has some people who work for teams all over baseball concerned about their jobs. 

Every MLB team, according to sources, has informed its full-time employees that business will run as usual through the end of April at which point teams will assess their respective situations.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak on Thursday was asked about the potential for layoffs or salary cuts within the organization.

"That's a situation that is not unique to baseball, unfortunately," Klentak said. "A lot of decisions will be made above my pay grade, obviously. For all of us, we are hopeful that we'll resume and not have to take measures like that. We trust that the Phillies are owned and run by very good people — and have been for a long time. Everybody is trying to do the best thing right now."

Layoffs and salary cuts were a big issue during the work stoppage in 1994-95. Some teams did cut full-time staff and pay. The Phillies did not.

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