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Ruben Amaro Meets with Phillies Beat Writers Concerning Articles in Sunday's Inquirer Now with video from meeting

Ruben Amaro Meets with Phillies Beat Writers Concerning Articles in Sunday's Inquirer Now with video from meeting

Like many of you, I came across Bob Brookover and Frank Fitzpatrick's articles in Sunday morning's Inquirer on Ryan Howard's rehab down in Clearwater and thought they might cause a stir. Turns out they did.

You can read Brookover's full piece here, but the basics are that he was twice removed from Bright House Field last week, as the Phillies are attempting to keep Howard's workouts media-free. Needless to say, Brookover wasn't happy with the treatment and the article isn't exactly "pro-organization" in its tone.

Fitzpatrick's piece, on the other hand, is a bit more problematic, as it questions the Phillies' rationale for administering a cortisone shot to Howard last September and how that decision may have contributed to the rupture of his Achilles just three weeks later.

On Sunday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. -- who is quoted in Brookover's piece as saying he's "uncomfortable" with having a player's rehab become "a public issue" -- addressed the team's beat writers and denied that the team had endangered Howard's health.

ESPN's Jayson Stark offers these tweets on the media's access to Howard:

As for the cortisone controversy, Amaro firmly denied that the shot and Howard's injury were related.

"I wanted to clear up some of the insinuations regarding a cortisone shot," Amaro said Sunday during Philadelphia's game against Boston [via the AP]. "The cortisone shot was treated for some (other) issue he had. It was not part of the Achilles' injury. We didn't feel it was an issue. That was resolved by the time he had his injury. One thing had nothing to do with the other."

"We're probably one of the most conservative clubs in baseball in administering treatment, and we always want to make sure we have the player's best interest."

Inqy Phils scribe Matt Gelb, an obvious colleague of Brookover and Fitzpatrick, wasn't exactly thrilled with the reaction and pointed out how the Phils could have been out in front of this story, rather than behind it:

Gelb also mentions in a separate tweet that "they," the Phillies, are more upset with the implications in the cortisone story than the access story.

He frames the dispute as the Inquirer merely attempting to report on the rehabilitation of a player who, he reminds us, is owed $125 million.

Much in that same vein, Brookover wrote in his piece:

"If you're willing to put down $20 to $40 a ticket for a ball game and you have an interest in the team, it's not unreasonable to want a firsthand progress report about the Phillies position player making the most money... We're paid to be the eyes of the fans and we have access to the places they cannot go."

This isn't the first time local beat writers have taken issue with a team's front office over access to specific players, but those matters have more involved a certain hockey team. In previous discussions on these issues, many of you have commented that you've been less concerned with the media's perceived slights and more concerned with success on the field/ice/court.

That said, if the Phillies don't have anything to hide, and I'm not saying they do, is it unreasonable to expect reports on the recovery of a star player?

Assuming the Inquirer did offer the Phillies a chance to comment on both articles, the club could have squashed some of this in advance without having to do damage control after the fact.

There's a number of issues at hand here, including some real petty stuff back and forth about the difference between media access during spring training versus rehabilitation stints in-season, but where do you stand on the Phillies controlling the coverage of an injured superstar?

Update: Courtesy CSNPhilly.com, who has it via NBC10's Howard Eskin, this cell phone video of Ruben Amaro addressing reporters at the meeting:

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Aaron Altherr's clutch hits lead Phillies to another comeback win over MLB-best Dodgers

Aaron Altherr's clutch hits lead Phillies to another comeback win over MLB-best Dodgers

BOX SCORE

Somewhere in the basement of Citizens Bank Park sits a stash of champagne, chilled and ready to go for a celebration in the visiting clubhouse. It's only a matter of time before the Los Angeles Dodgers clinch their fifth straight National League West crown, but the Phillies would prefer it did not happen in their house.

The Phillies aren't saying that verbally.

They're saying it with their actions.

They've played some of their best and most exciting baseball of the season the last three nights in taking the first three games of a four-game series against the Dodgers. All three of the wins have been come-from-behind efforts. The Phillies set themselves up for a series sweep with a 7-5 win Wednesday night (see observations). The victory included two more big hits from Aaron Altherr and a game-ending catch by centerfielder Odubel Herrera that left you wondering how to say 'Wow!' in Spanish (see video).

Herrera burst into laughter when he was asked that question after the game.

His answer: "Wow!"

Altherr has delivered several Wow! moments in this series. There was his decisive grand slam against Clayton Kershaw in the opener, another home run in Tuesday night's win and four more RBIs on Wednesday night.

Altherr hit a game-tying, two-run home run in the seventh inning on a hanging breaking ball from Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling. Two batters later, Tommy Joseph went deep on another hanger from Stripling as the Phillies took a 5-4 lead.

The Phillies' bullpen has been excellent lately, but it struggled in this game and let leads of 2-1 and 5-4 get away.

But these Phillies aren't just playing out the string. They have young players trying to show they belong and that's creating problems for the 96-win Dodgers. After giving up the lead in the top of the eighth, the Phillies rallied for two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead for good. The rally featured a leadoff walk by Cesar Hernandez, a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis, a Dodgers' error, an intentional walk to Rhys Hoskins to load the bases and a two-run line drive hit to right by Altherr to put the Phils ahead.

Altherr, activated less than two weeks ago after a month-long stay on the disabled list, has nine RBIs in the first three games of the series. For the season, he is hitting .281 with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 97 games. His OPS is .890.

"I'm just seeing the ball really well now. I got my timing back," Altherr said. "It's good when those two things come together. I'm just a lot more relaxed at the plate. I'm driving the ball better.

"I think when I first came back I was probably trying to do too much. You know, just trying to make up for lost time. It wasn't working. I went back to relaxing at the plate and letting the ball come to me and putting a good swing on it."

Altherr's decisive two-run single with one out in the eighth came against right-hander Brandon Morrow. Lefty Luis Avilan started the inning and loaded the bases on an intentional walk to Hoskins one batter before Altherr came up.

"That's part of the game," Altherr said of the intentional walk. "But, obviously, you still want to prove them wrong in thinking I'm an easier out. I just wanted to do the best I could to hit the ball hard somewhere."

Jake Thompson pitched five innings, ran a high pitch count, but exited the game with a lead.

He enjoyed watching from the dugout as his teammates rallied for five runs in their final two at-bats to make it three straight against the Dodgers.

"I think it gives us a huge boost knowing who we're doing it against," Thompson said. "They didn't get that record by a fluke. That team is really, really good. I think it shows how far this team has come this year."

The Phillies are moving in the right direction. At least their record is. They were 29 games under .500 before the All-Star break. Wednesday night's win left them at 32-33 after the break and that means something to a rebuilding team that has put a premium on improvement.

"To win these three games is huge for our confidence," Altherr said. "We know we're a good team. We have a lot of talent on this team. Wins like these help us believe in ourselves even more and help us to believe we can do this in the years to come. We're definitely excited about the future."

The Phillies' three wins in this series have come with Kershaw, Yu Darvish and All-Star lefty Alex Wood on the mound. Those are three pretty good pitchers. The Phils will face righty Kenta Maeda in the series finale Thursday afternoon. A sweep would be a nice accomplishment. It would ensure that the Dodgers would not pop champagne corks in Philadelphia. And it would also give the Phillies a .500 record after the All-Star break, a little sign of progress as the team's fifth straight losing season winds down.