Mets’ Luis Rojas condemns behavior of fired hitting coordinator

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Mets manager Luis Rojas condemned the behavior of former New York hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis on Wednesday but said he never witnessed his longtime coworker act inappropriately after Ellis was fired recently for sexual harassment.

The Athletic reported Wednesday that in the summer of 2018, three female Mets employees complained to human resources that Ellis, then the minor league hitting coordinator, had directed lewd comments to them in person and via text message.

Ellis, promoted to the big league coaching staff last summer, was fired last month after New York investigated the matter for a second time. His dismissal came shortly after the club fired newly hired general manager Jared Porter for sending sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.

Former Mets manager Mickey Callaway, now the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels, was suspended this month and is under investigation amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward several women who work in sports media.

In a statement to The Athletic, New York said it investigated and disciplined Ellis in 2018 but did not terminate his employment. The team said it received new information in January regarding Ellis’ behavior in 2017-18 and fired him Jan. 22 for “violating company policy and failure to meet the Mets’ standards for professionalism and personal conduct.”

“We’ve set new expectations,” Rojas said from the club’s spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. “There’s also new avenues added to report cases like this. It’s been disappointing. I’m sorry to see it from afar.”

Ellis, a former minor league infielder, was hired by the Mets as a minor league coach in 2006. Rojas joined the franchise a year later as manager of its Dominican Summer League team, and both had been with the organization since, spending most of that time in the minor leagues.

Rojas was thrust into the job as New York’s manager in January 2020 after Carlos Beltran was fired 77 days into his tenure for his role in the 2017 Houston Astros’ cheating scandal. Ellis joined the big league staff for the pandemic-shortened regular season after hitting coach Chili Davis opted out. Ellis was with the team throughout the 60-game season.

“My relationship with Ryan, knowing him for years here in the Mets organization, has been strictly baseball,” Rojas said. “That’s what we had as far as conversations.”

“Those misconducts, they’re just unacceptable,” he added. “We should have a safe environment to work in, a safe workplace.”

Rojas said he’s had regular video meetings with his coaching staff this offseason, and Ellis had not been a part of that group because Davis is returning for the 2021 season.

The women who spoke to The Athletic about Ellis described sexually explicit comments made in person and persistent, unwanted text messages that were sexual in nature.

Rojas credited new owner Steven Cohen for responding swiftly to the allegations against Porter and Ellis and pointed to new reporting procedures put in place by the team for employees to report illicit behavior, including an external hotline that allows employees to remain anonymous if they prefer.

Major League Baseball has adopted a similar hotline for league and team employees that is also available to non-league employees, such as journalists.

“Our new ownership has definitely set a new set of expectations they put out, and there’s also new avenues of reporting these cases,” Rojas said. “I’m pretty confident that this type of behavior is something that is going to be unacceptable in this organization. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.