CLEARWATER, Fla. ? Michael Schwimer knew something was up when instead of being brought into the game to pitch his scheduled inning Saturday he was summoned to the clubhouse to speak with assistant general manager Scott Proefrock.
Schwimer, a 27-year-old reliever, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor-league first baseman Art Charles.
According to both Schwimer and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., a dispute between the pitcher and the team over an injury late last season had nothing to do with the team?s decision to move the reliever who finished third in innings pitched in the Phillies? bullpen last season.
Amaro said a glut of relievers, the desire to add power potential to the system, and potential issues with roster space led to the deal.
Schwimer said the Phillies made the deal to better their club now or in the future and added that the Phils weren?t a team that would ?let any petty differences affect them wanting to win.?
Still, one has to wonder if the relationship between the two sides impacted the parting. Pitching coach Rich Dubee described Schwimer as ?an arm that should pitch in the big leagues if he sticks to doing things the right way instead of being too macho at times and coming out of his delivery.? Schwimer had options remaining, meaning he could have been sent to the minors. There was no overriding pressure to trade him.
Schwimer pitched in 35 games for the Phils last season and was sent to the minors in late August. The pitcher initially balked at the assignment, saying he had a shoulder injury. Players who are injured can?t be sent to the minors, per Major League Baseball rule. Phillies medical personnel said Schwimer was not injured. The pitcher sought outside medical opinions and the Players? Association investigated whether the Phillies had violated the basic agreement.
Though Schwimer reported to camp healthy, he admitted that his injury dispute with the Phillies remained an open issue.
?Nothing has been filed,? he said, meaning an official grievance. ?But as far as I?m concerned it?s definitely an open issue.?
If a grievance is filed and Schwimer wins, he could get back pay and service time.
?There?s a lot of things I can?t get into,? Schwimer said of the dispute. ?What I will say was there was definitely a disconnect in communication. It was nothing personal against them. It was nothing personal against me. As a young player you really don?t know how to handle certain things and in their opinion I handled things the wrong way, and in my opinion they handled things ? It was just a communication difference.?
Despite the situation, Schwimer said he was grateful to the Phillies.
?This is a business,? he said. ?Everybody has to do what they think will make their team better. I respect their decision completely. I absolutely loved my time with the Phillies. I loved the teammates I had and the team. I hope we meet in the World Series. It?s been a great time and a great ride.?
Amaro said, ?There?s nothing wrong with Schwim. He?s a great kid. We have some depth with our young bullpen arms and we are going to have some roster issues down the pike. We could have waited, but we felt this was the right thing to do right now for us.?
Charles, 22, is a 6-foot-6 lefthanded hitter with power. He was a 20th-round draft pick in 2010. He has a .239 batting average, an OPS of .840, and 28 homers in 585 minor-league at-bats. He has never played above Class A.
?He?s got big pop,? Amaro said. ?Whether he?s going to be a major league hitter at some point, we don?t know. He?s a big kid and a pretty decent athlete. He hits home runs and has a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. We?ll see. We?re taking a chance on a guy.?