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.