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Amaro addresses state of team, front office

Phillies GM is 'fully supportive' of manager Sandberg during eight-game skid

PHILADELPHIA -- It has been so bad lately for the Phillies that Ruben Amaro Jr. unexpectedly popped into the home dugout Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park to talk about it.

The Phillies entered Wednesday's series opener against the Orioles with the worst record (22-44) in baseball. They have lost 18 of their last 21 games, and they just completed an 0-8 road trip, their first winless road trip of eight or more games since an 0-9 stretch in the team's inaugural 1883 season.

"We knew that were not going to be necessarily challenging for the National League East title, but at the same time, we need to see improvement, and that's what we expect," Amaro said. "We're not seeing it right now."

Could changes be coming?

Possibly, but they do not seem imminent.

A report earlier this week said longtime baseball executive Andy MacPhail, 63, is the organization's top target to replace Phillies president Pat Gillick, who is not expected to remain in his position beyond the season. But until Gillick's replacement is announced, he seems unlikely to make wholesale changes with the front office or coaching staff.

Gillick may cede team control to MacPhail

"I really don't have any comment about that," Amaro said about MacPhail's possible arrival. "That's not my area. That's for people who are much higher than my pay grade."

Could MacPhail's arrival be bad for him?

"I'll answer that the same I just answered the first question," Amaro said.

But Amaro, whose contract expires at the end of the season, said he is "fully supportive" of Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, and he expects Sandberg to finish the season.

"As far as I'm concerned, yes," Amaro said.

Of course, it might not be entirely Amaro's decision to make at this point. Sandberg said he isn't worried about his job status.

"I worry about the game today and what has to be done today," Sandberg said. "That's the focus and the mindset for me."

But the pressure certainly is on the Phillies, who are rebuilding for the future. They hope to trade Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang and potentially others before the July 31 Trade Deadline in an effort to speed up the rebuilding process.

The Phillies' intentions are known, but so far, they have not pulled the trigger.

There are reasons for that. The Phils might argue teams are low-balling them. Other teams might argue the Phillies are asking for too much.

"All I can say about that is people have their opinions," Amaro said.

But if MacPhail is going to join the organization, a strong Trade Deadline performance might be Amaro's best bet to save his job.

"I don't worry about doing my job to save my job," Amaro said. "I have to do my job well so this organization can get back on its feet and do the things that we need to do to be a perennial contender. That was the plan at the outset of this offseason. We were going to rebuild. We were not going to be a great ballclub. We were not going to be a contending team. We knew that. We know that we were going to take some lumps.

"I see a lot of positive things that are happening in our Minor League system. There's a lot of lights at the end of the tunnel for us."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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