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Ruben Amaro on Chase Utley’s health: “I’m not trying to deceive anybody”

Mar 27, 2012, 8:16 AM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

There has been considerable uncertainty swirling around Chase Utley‘s health this spring, fueled in no small part by Utley and the team being seemingly unwilling, until Sunday at least, to provide updates as to his status.  This led to Ruben Amaro assembling reporters in Clearwater yesterday to tell them, hey, I wouldn’t lie to you:

“We don’t have anything to gain from hiding information from you guys. That’s not our modus operandi. There are times we just don’t know. I’m not trying to deceive anybody. Why would I lie to the public? How is that going to make the organization’s relationship with the public better? What benefit would I have to tell you Chase is fine when I know that he’s not? What good does that do for us? We pride ourselves on having a pretty good relationship with our fans. There’s no real benefit for us to lie to them.”

All of which is true. And as Amaro implied later, this was less about the team being unwilling to talk about it than it was Utley being unwilling. As Jim Salisbury of reports, it was Utley who did not want the team to reveal the name of the specialist he went to see over the weekend, and it appears to be his desire for privacy about all of this that has led to the Phillies, if not deceiving people, at least being cagey about it all.

This is less about injuries and Utley, though, and more about expectations. Whether it’s this or trade talks or something else, fans and the media have come to expect a certain kind of discourse when it comes to these things. It may be inane discourse, but it’s noticed in the absence in ways that it would never be noticed if Amaro or Utley had just mouthed platitudes about it all last week.

Just the kind of thing that makes you realize the weirdness of our relationship with these teams and these players. We think we know them so well. We expect to know even more than than we already do. But in reality, we are kind of distant. I think therein lies both the appeal of sports-as-storyline and the problem with it.

  1. philsbirdsflyers - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    “World f@#$ing champions” – the 1 and only time Chase Utley has or will ever come out of his private shell. And the brass wouldn’t dare step on their golden boy’s toes. Here’s to hoping for a full recovery for one of the game’s hardest working players..

  2. paperlions - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    I don’t blame Utley. His health care is private information and the details of that are no one’s business. The Phillies can’t legally release any info he doesn’t want released, so…good for them for abiding his wishes for privacy.

    • patg1041 - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:31 AM

      You know, I’ve always kind of wondered about that. Those that work in the health care field are fobidden by federal law from releasing anyone’s health information. Exactly how is it legal for teams to release injury reports to the media?

      • crisisofinfinitephils - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:40 AM

        I would imagine that it is collectively bargained. It’s probably due to competitive balance and sports betting purposes.

      • paperlions - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:47 AM

        With player consent teams can release information to the public. I would guess that the team has rights to know aspects of health of their players, but they do not have the right to make that information public without player consent. Of course, “leaks” (also known as people that can’t keep their mouth shut and love to feel important by sharing privileged information) happen all the time and are hard to control or address from a legal stand point.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM

        Ugh, it’s been awhile since i’ve had to look at HIPAA laws, but I’m almost positive it only covers those in the medical field dealing in private information. If I were to get a hold of Utley’s medical records, nothing would stop me from releasing them as I’m not bound to privacy via HIPAA.

        Also, injury reports and such are only for Vegas and the gamblers so they can set proper lines. Think about that next time one of the professional leagues gives a diatribe against the evils of gambling.

      • phillyphreak - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:27 AM

        I could be wrong, it’s also been a while since I’ve taken those stupid HIPAA exams, but anyone in a contract or business assoication with the medical teams are also barred from sharing information by HIPAA. I would assume this also means MLB and its teams. Generally, the players allow injuries to be discussed, but if they expressly ask that it not, I don’t think teams can disclose any information. I think the only exemptions are law enforcement, govt entities etc.

        If you were to get a hold of his medical records, whoever supplied you with them would be violating HIPAA and my guess is that in some way you could be held accountable too. The common example I remember on these exams was something like “Mr. X is in the hospital for treatment and a member of the staff not involved in his treatment disseminates his information. Is this a violation of HIPAA? -yes.

        But it’s been a while so. Regardless of HIPAA, even if he asked them to keep quiet, they should.

      • jwbiii - Mar 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        crisis. . . is correct. Under the 2007-11 CBA and the 2011 Uniform Player Contract, a player signs away any rights to medical privacy for a baseball related injury or medical condition. It’s in article XIII, section G, pages 48-50. It rambles on for quite a bit and there’s no good pull quote but it’s here if you want to read it:

        Props of course to Maury Brown. If this sort of topic, or other Biz of Baseball topics, appeal to you, you might like his website.

        Disclaimers: The new CBA may be different and Utley may different language in his contract. I don’t know these things. Maybe the Phillies are honoring their agreement with Utley; maybe they are obfuscating.

        As for HIPAA, I have worked as a computer programmer for both a medical center and a state, and I was absolutely prohibited from disclosing personal medical information (Want a list of women diagnosed with nymphomania, on MEDICAID, aged 18-40, in your zip code or surrounding zip codes, sorted by body mass index and marital status? I can’t tell you.). My wife is an emergency dispatcher and she is bound by the same rules. So it’s not just doctors and other medical professionals.

        How this relates to non-baseball related injuries and medical conditions, such as Joba Chamberlain or Ryan Westmoreland, I have no idea.

  3. siftin thru nonsense - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Some ridiculous comments here. He is paid ridiculous amounts of money and the fans and this game are the reason this guy is richer than rich. Love the guy, but you need to let the fans know what is going on. It is part of the deal when you sign for millions of dollars and the good life. It’s baseball. Everyone has an injury report people. Check ESPN or any mlb website! Keeping everything a secret can cause issue with fans and the front office. It can stop us from adding a key player like Cuddyer or Aramis Ramirez etc. (shift Polanco to 2nd) and keep us from preparing ahead of time. I don’t know, this is becoming a lingering headache. Facts need to be provided to Reuben Amaro,Jr. The Phillies pay Utley and he needs to keep them informed. Utley is their investment people.

    • phillyphreak - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      He is paid lots of money because he has a skill set that lends itself well to baseball. I don’t begrudge him of that. Hell I’d love to have those skills. And though the spotlight and attention is part of the deal, it in no way means that he has to share injury information with the fans and John Q Public. I’d be confident betting that his contract doesn’t stipulate that he tell the fans everything.

      Two other things:
      1) His knee issues aren’t a secret. He was diagnosed with a chronic condition last season and if the Phillies were smart they would have expected it to resurface at some point. So it’s not like it was a big secret or something.

      2) Cuddyer is not a key player.

    • paperlions - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      As a fan, you have the right to absolutely nothing. You have the choice to attend games or not, to watch on TV or not, to buy merchandise or not, but that is where it ends. You are a spectator of entertainment and have no rights beyond your choice to be involved or not. You don’t have the right to pester players in public, to know the status of their health, or anything else.

  4. loslonelyman - Mar 27, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    I totally disagree philyphreak! I live in West Deptford (South Jersey) I hear the fireworks after every Eagles/Phillies win. Own Phillies season tickets, Have a Chase Utley fathead and bobble heads as well as an authentic 26 jersey.He needed to man up and let Reuben know MONTHS ago if he was healthy. He should have pushed his training regime timetable up specifically to avoid this situation.Cuddyer is a stud,and like Chase a GREAT clubhouse guy and hardworker. If Reuben had known about Chase earlier,he could have signed Cuddyer,moved Polanco to second AND let Chase play first if he returned. Imagine if Chase would be the backup middle infielder at first AND second.Cuddyer could play first and left. Nix would never had been signed and you would still have wiggington and galvis at the ready. If we struggle, Chase has no one but his ego to blame. I love chase,but a leader does whats best for the team,not whats best for his career first.

    • phillyphreak - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:07 AM

      What type of memorabilia or Phillies gear you have is irrelevant to the conversation.

      1) Utley had knee problems last year. I’m guessing RAJ knew about that because Utley missed a portion of the season.

      2) By all accounts, Utley modified his workout regimen in the winter and it wasn’t until baseball activities started that his knees bothered him (again because the condition is chronic it is foolish of the Phillies to not anticipate some set back).

      “I love chase,but a leader does whats best for the team,not whats best for his career first.”
      – One this assumes that Utley is the clubhouse leader (or one of them). I’m not convinced I buy all the leader hubbub but he plays hard on the field. Perhaps he’s a leader through his play. And because he’s such an important part to the Phillies success, it’s perhaps better for him to worry about his career a little bit. Longer, more productive career could be better for the Phils (however long it may be).

      Cuddyer is a bad defender at multiple positions and I would hardly call him a “stud.”

      • loslonelyman - Mar 27, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        Ok,well an injured Polanco/Utley isn’t exactly gold glove material either. If you listened to Utley’s conference,he said he did the same regime that got him to play last season. Unfortunately, he needed to go someplace warm(with his 15 million a year salary) and start baseball activities early(say Jan 15th). Then Rueben would have been able to get a descent player. Listen, Cuddyer is a leader by every account i can find, his defense is not classified as “bad” in the same types of research.If he was a “PLUS” defender he would have gotten Jayson Werth money at less years i bet.

  5. Walk - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    People have speculated frequently about chase’s injury status contributing to his mini slumps. Is it his knee or his hip gets asked a lot in the comments and just talking at work. Well chase is in the lineup a lot and seems to play through his injuries when he can. I get that he is a public figure and loses some of his privacy because of that but the guy seems to play when he can get on the field. Even with minor nagging injuries. As far as i am concerned he has earned some leeway from me. I will respect his privacy on this one, i am betting he beats time frame for any injury that does get reported. Good luck phillies fans, i hope your boy will be healthy soon.

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