Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. apologized to Ryan Howard for public comments that intensified trade rumors involving the first baseman this offseason, reports Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.
In December, Amaro said in a radio interview the Phillies' front office told Howard "that in [the team's] situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him." The 35-year-old Howard is due $60 million in guaranteed money over the next three seasons and coming off a season in which he hit .223 with a career-low .690 OPS.
With spring training nearly underway, Amaro said he has spoken with Howard in the last two weeks, the Daily News reports, and sought to make amends with the five-time All-Star and 2006 NL MVP.
"Frankly, I apologized for those comments that I made that were public," Amaro said. "And I think he appreciated that. Other than that, I want to keep the conversation private. It was a good talk."
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg also supported Howard last week, saying that he will be the team's starting first baseman until he is unseated.
The Phillies finished 73-89 in 2014 for the second straight season and missed the playoffs for the third straight. Several veterans were moved including shortstop Jimmy Rollins and outfielder Marlon Byrd, but the team still has money committed to Howard, starter Cole Hamels and reliever Jonathan Papelbon.
- Mike Fiammetta