Red Sox's Amaro happy to be back in Philly

Red Sox's Amaro happy to be back in Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- For a man who spent countless hours in Citizens Bank Park, Ruben Amaro Jr. still found himself in unfamiliar territory Wednesday afternoon.

"It's very strange to be on this side," Amaro said from the visitors' dugout in a Red Sox windbreaker.

Much has changed for Amaro since he was dismissed as Phillies general manager at the end of the 2015 season. Amaro is in his second season as Boston's first-base coach, wearing a uniform at the ballpark every day instead of business attire.

It's a new role in a new city for Amaro, who was born in Philadelphia while his father, Ruben Sr., was a Phils shortstop. Amaro spent five of his own eight Major League seasons with Philadelphia and another 17 in the club's front office -- seven as general manager.

He did not downplay the homecoming.

"It means a lot to me to be back here. I'm not going to play it off like it's nothing," he told a gathering of reporters. "This was an important part of my life -- this was my whole life for 50 years. That's a long time. That's a long time to be involved in the Phillies in some way, shape or form."

Amaro delivered the Red Sox's lineup Wednesday night and got a hug at home plate from Phillies third-base coach Juan Samuel. He got another embrace from the Phillie Phanatic after taking the field.

Before he took the field, Amaro was all smiles as he held court in the Red Sox's dugout. The 52-year-old spent more than an hour reconnecting with familiar faces and Phillies front office members who Amaro said are "still like family."

Amaro is also quite familiar with the Phillies roster, much of which he helped build. He noted he checks on players -- both on the Phils and in the Minors -- he had a hand in drafting or acquiring.

But the rebuild Amaro started in 2014 has not gone exactly to plan. The Phillies entered Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox at 21-42, the worst record in the Majors.

"It's not progressing maybe as quickly as fans would like here in Philadelphia yet, but there's some talent here," Amaro said. "We got to experience playing against it the last couple of days. There's some ability, they just haven't been able to put it all together."

Scrutiny is part of the job that Amaro does not miss, but he called it an "occupational hazard" in Philadelphia.

"I always felt like it was part of the gig. In Philadelphia, that's what happens," he said. "You're under a great deal of scrutiny. That's what it's all about, it wasn't anything new."

He faces much less ire at first base in Boston -- but he's not totally immune.

"Oh I get ripped, sure I get ripped," Amaro joked. "I get a guy picked off, that's always my fault."

Hanley Ramirez made his season debut at first base Wednesday, giving Mitch Moreland a breather after Moreland was hit by a pitch Tuesday night.

• The Red Sox recalled righty Hector Velazquez and optioned infielder Deven Marrero to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday. Velazquez will pitch out of the bullpen. He has made one Major League appearance in his career, a start against Oakland on May 18. Marrero, meanwhile, was hitting .157 with a .497 in 83 at-bats in 33 games.

Stephen Pianovich is a contributor to MLB.com based in Philadelphia and covered the Red Sox on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.