MORE THAN 6 months removed from cancer surgery, Phillies team president David Montgomery remains on medical leave, and his future within the organization is far from certain.
Yesterday, the team's media-relations department had to address speculation regarding Montgomery for the second time in 3 months. Earlier in the day, a 94WIP report said that Montgomery had been informed he would not be returning to his role as president in 2015.
"Of foremost concern to this organization is David Montgomery's full recovery from his surgery this past spring," read the Phillies statement. "There has been no determination made regarding his future status. Phillies ownership will continue to confer with David about their collective vision for the future."
Montgomery, 68, underwent surgery in May to have cancer removed from his jawbone.
After returning to work early in the summer, Montgomery took a medical leave of absence in late August to continue to rehab from the illness. At the time, former general manager Pat Gillick was put in place as the Phillies' acting president, and the organization said in a statement that it "looks forward to David returning to his roles as General Partner, President and Chief Executive Offer when he is fully recovered."
But, more than 3 months later, Montgomery is still on leave. According to sources, there is a great deal of uncertainty among the club's executives at One Citizens Bank Way.
In place of Montgomery, Gillick has been running the baseball operations department, while Mike Stiles, the team's senior vice president for administration and operations, has handled the day-to-day business matters.
Perhaps Montgomery's future will be determined after the holidays, and before the 2015 season unofficially gets underway in Clearwater, Fla., in February. Although the Phillies have continually sidestepped the speculation in recent months, they have managed to reveal a little in their public statements.
On Aug. 28, the organization was looking forward "to David returning to his roles" upon recovery. Yesterday, the Phillies said "no determination made regarding his future status."
Last month, after speaking at luncheon celebrating the Phillies' 30-year partnership with the Philadelphia ALS Association, Montgomery told MLB.com that "it's not entirely my call" regarding his return.
With the Phillies coming off their second straight losing season - and third in a row without a winning record, despite having one of the top five payrolls in baseball - change within the front office and beyond wouldn't be shocking, but perhaps expected. Instead, the Phillies have done little other than dismiss assistant general manager and scouting director Marti Wolever in September.
The lack of movement has carried over into the first full month of free agency. Since the end of the World Series, the Phillies haven't made any significant moves - free-agent signings or trades - despite general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s call for roster changes on Sept. 1.
"We're going to have to start churning the roster in a way that it's going to have it be improved," Amaro said that day. "I think we need [a lot of change]. What we have on our roster right now isn't working. How much we do depends on what makes sense for us. We're still assessing what we have, but I think it behooves us to look to make changes because we need to be better."
Three months and 3 days later, disgruntled Phillies fans are still waiting for those changes. Meanwhile, the speculation regarding who will lead that change into 2015 continues.
Antonio Bastardo, Ben Revere and Domonic Brown were all tendered contracts before Tuesday's midnight deadline for arbitration-eligible players. All three Phillies still must come to terms with the club on contracts in the next 2 months before arbitration hearings take place in February. Major league players who were not tendered contracts Tuesday became free agents.