As the Phillies begin spring training activities down in Clearwater, former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is in Fort Myers preparing for his first season as the Red Sox’s first-base coach and outfield instructor.
It’s the first time in 20 years that Amaro has reported somewhere other than Clearwater for spring training.
In an interview with the Philly.com’s Bob Brookover, Amaro spoke publicly about the end of his career in the Phillies’ organization for the first time since his firing back in Sept.
“The decision wasn’t about me,” Amaro said via Philly.com. “It was about the Phillies making a change. I have great respect for Andy MacPhail and John Middleton and the Bucks [Jim and Pete]. Andy is a very intelligent man and he’s had great success and, like I said, I hope he continues to have great success because my heart will always bleed for the Phillies.”
Before his firing, Amaro, 51, was, in some capacity, part of the Phillies organization for 35 years. Amaro served as a bat boy from 1980 to 1983 while his father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the club’s first base coach. During his major league career, Amaro spent five years with the Phillies and immediately joined their front office in 1998 after his playing days were over.
He spent 10 years as the Phillies’ assistant general manager before he was promoted to general manager after the team won the World Series in 2008.
Unfortunately, Amaro’s reputation among the fans quickly soured as the team fell from having baseball’s best record in 2011, to having the worst record by 2015. It was a fall from grace that transformed Amaro into one of the most loathed sports figures in recent Philadelphia history.
“It’s an occupational hazard, man,” Amaro said. “When you’re the GM of an organization or president of baseball operations, your job is to run baseball and if things don’t go well, then it should land squarely on you. That’s why we get paid what we get paid. It’s part of the pressure and the prestige of the job. I don’t blame anybody else and, at the same time, I take a lot of pride in the things that we did in my time there as a GM.”
During his final months as the club’s GM, Amaro and the front office made moves that shook the foundation of the Phillies and could potentially set the team up for prolonged success for years to come. The biggest move was trading former World Series MVP Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to the Texas Rangers for a bounty of young, promising talent that has helped replenish a barren farm system.
“Listen, everything that we did was a team effort,” Amaro said. “It always was. I didn’t make the trades by myself. I believed in bringing a lot of people into the circle. I enjoyed my time with those guys because I liked to give them opportunities to contribute and they deserve a lot of credit for the things that were accomplished there.”
Over the course of just one year, the Phillies’ farm system has undergone a radical overhaul from one of the game’s worst, to one of its most promising in the eyes of credible analysts.
But despite the bad times, Amaro is still proud of what he accomplished with the Phillies.
“I’ll let the record speak for itself,” he said. “I was involved in the baseball operations long before we won the World Series and long after.”
The transition from general manager to first-base coach is an odd one. So far, Amaro is making the most out of his time with the Red Sox. He told Brookover that “he feels like a kid again” being on the field with the players and coaches. Amaro appears to be enjoying his new role, but he’s open to the idea of returning to another big league front office.
“My goals are more short-term right now,” Amaro said. “I’m trying to help the Boston Red Sox win and be a championship club. I’m open-minded about my future. If it keeps me on the field, then great. If it takes me off the field and into a front office, that is something I wouldn’t want to close the door on, either.”