Two men who played key roles in the Philadelphia Phillies organization in recent years have each landed jobs with new teams in the American League.
Former Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro Jr has been hired as the first base coach with the Boston Red Sox of the AL East Division. Former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee will take on that same pitching coach role with the Detroit Tigers of the AL Central Division.
Amaro is from a baseball family. His father and both of his grandparents played the game professionally. He has been a literal lifelong Phillie, with a couple of side trips outside the organization prior to this. That relationship began when he was just a child.
His father, Rubén Amaro, was an infielder who played 11 big league seasons, including from 1960-65 with the Phillies. He had just finished up his final season in Philly, not yet having begun what would be a 3-year stint with the New York Yankees, when young Ruben was born in February 1965.
The family settled in Philadelphia after Rubén Sr’s career came to an end in 1969 when he unexpectedly took on a role as a minor league player-coach in the Phillies organization. That led to various roles with the organization over the next decade or so, including as a scout, and then as a coach at the big league level.
Ruben Jr grew up in the area and went to the prestigious local Penn Charter High School, then attended Stanford University from which he was selected in the 11th round of the 1987 MLB Amateur Draft by the then-California Angels.
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After breaking into the big leagues in 1991 with 26 plate appearances for the Angels, Amaro was traded to the Phillies along with pitcher Kyle Abbott for aging outfielder Von Hayes in December of 1991. He got 427 plate appearances, his only real regular big league work, with the last place 1992 Phillies.
Amaro was around as a bit player with the 1993 ‘Macho Row’ group that won a surprising NL pennant, and then was traded to the Cleveland Indians for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb in November of 1993. After two years with the Tribe, Amaro re-signed with the Phillies, and finished out his career in red pinstripes, concluding with the 1998 season.
He would be hired by the Phillies following his career, and rose to become the club’s assistant GM, a role that he held during the 2008 World Series championship season.
He was then hired as the club general manager, a role that he held for most of the last seven season, years that saw a consistent decline in the organization’s fortunes. Amaro was finally fired from that role last month.
Per a piece in the Bucks Local News, the now 50-year old Amaro, a Yardley, PA resident, has always had an itch to return to the field.
“I’ve always had kind of an itch to be back on the field,” said Amaro. “Clearly, I had a great opportunity to work in the front office with Philadelphia for many, many years. All the while, when you sit from that seat, there’s always an observation as a player for many years, it’s always been something I’ve thought about quite a bit. I feel very fortunate to be able to get this opportunity with this organization.”
The 58-year old Dubee is a Massachusetts native who was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 3rd round of the 1976 MLB Amateur Draft as a high school pitcher.
He spent parts of six seasons in the Royals minor league organization, including the entirety of their glory years run of the late-70’s that culminated with the 1980 World Series appearance against the Phillies. However, Dubee never reached the big leagues as a player.
After serving for four seasons as the then-Florida Marlins pitching coach, he was hired to take that role with the Phillies for the 2005 season. Dubee would remain the Phils’ pitching coach through the 2013 campaign, including the World Series championship season of 2008. Former Phils’ closer Mitch Williams had some interesting comments regarding Dubee’s final years in Philly during an interview earlier this year.
In taking over the Tigers position and handling a staff that includes veteran ace Justin Verlander, Dubee was reported by MLB.com’s Jason Beck as stating that he likes to approach his pitchers as individuals, rather than having one system or style.
“Every pitcher has their own way they go about doing things,” Dubee said, “and you try to find that balance that makes them work most effectively. A veteran guy has a little more say, where you might be more forceful with a young guy.”
The Phillies just filled the opening created by Amaro’s firing with the naming of Matt Klentak as general manager early this week. Bob McClure took over the club’s pitching coach position in December 2013 after Dubee was let go, and will return to that position for the coming 2016 season.