The Phillies are accused of secrecy regarding Ryan Howard; Ruben Amaro plays defense

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There were two interesting articles in yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

  • Bob Brookover reported how he was removed from Bright House Field in Clearwater last week while trying to cover Ryan Howard’s rehab; and
  • Frank Fitzpatrick questioned the Phillies’ giving Howard a cortisone shot in September and quotes medical experts who suggest that the shot could have contributed to Howard’s Achilles injury in the playoffs.

Obviously both of those were shots over the Phillies’ bow, with the first one accusing the team of secrecy. The second one was notable for the fact that the Phillies declined comment.

In response, GM Ruben Amaro had a hastily-assembled press conference yesterday in which he defended the team.  Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia has the report. The upshot: Amaro says the team is conservative with cortisone shots and that they’re not concerned. As for keeping the media out of Howard’s rehab — both the Inquirer and CSNPhilly have been barred from covering his workouts — well, the rationale is somewhat less clear:

“We just feel uncomfortable with it,” Amaro said. “We’d rather be able to report those things. I just don’t feel comfortable putting the player in that position right now … We’re not trying to hide things,” Amaro continued. “That’s not our job. Our job is to have the best interest of the player in mind and we want to make sure he gets ready at his own pace. When you have people getting involved in a rehab such as this it can, in fact, affect the player.”

Given that most other teams allow the press to watch workouts down at spring training facilities, this explanation isn’t exactly satisfying.  We don’t want to let the press in because … we don’t want to let the press in.” Hurm.

This is not the first time the Phillies have been cagey with injuries and rehab. Chase Utley’s situation has had its own lack of transparency too, though many chalk that up to Utley’s wishes, not the team’s.  It’s unclear whether Howard’s situation is the same or if, rather, it’s indicative of the Phillies consciously staking out a different approach to such matters than the other teams.

I will observe one thing, however: if the intention of such an approach is to limit media scrutiny, Amaro is in for a rude awakening.  The one thing that makes reporters work harder to get a story is telling them that they can’t get the story.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.