A Washington Nationals batting practice pitcher claims the Philadelphia Phillies and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. defamed him and ruined his job possibilities, in a lawsuit filed Monday in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
And Jayson Werth, the Nationals right fielder who spent four seasons with the Phillies, plays a central role in the drama.
Ali Modami, who finished his first season as the Nationals' left-handed batting practice pitcher, worked in the same capacity for the Phillies from 2007 until he was terminated in 2011 because the team wanted to "change up the hitting program." In an attempt to find employment, Modami asked Werth and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier about opportunities with their organizations.
According to the lawsuit, Werth texted Modami in January 2012: "[Mike] Rizzo talked to [Amaro] NO GOOD, call me ASAP."
Werth told Modami, the suit said, that Amaro told Rizzo that Modami was terminated for "stealing" and "selling memorabilia" in addition to "writing negative things about the team on the Internet."
Modami, seeking damages in excess of $100,000, denies the claims.
"Neither the Phillies or Ruben has been served with the complaint yet so we're not in a position to comment," Phillies spokesperson Bonnie Clark said in an email. "Additionally, it is the club's practice to not comment on pending litigation."
Modami and the Nationals didn't immediately return requests for comment Tuesday.
Following Modami's conversation with Werth, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti informed Modami he would not be hired by the team.
So, the suit details, Modami spoke with Davey Lopes, the former Nationals and Phillies first-base coach now with the Dodgers. Lopes relayed a similar story: Amaro told Colletti the batting practice pitcher was terminated for the same reasons he told Rizzo.
"Moreover, Ethier later informed Plaintiff Modami that Colletti had also told him that Plaintiff Modami was not offered a position because Colletti had heard 'nothing but bad things from the people in Philly,'" the lawsuit said, "and that the Dodgers 'cannot afford to have someone like that around.'"
Despite Amaro's alleged comments, the Nationals hired Modami for the 2012 season and he became a popular figure in the clubhouse.
The suit claims, among other things, the purported comments caused Modami "humiliation, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, difficulty in obtaining gainful employment ... [and] loss of future earning power."
The 32-year-old Modami spent two seasons with independent league teams after playing collegiately at Scottsdale Community College and Oklahoma State. He resides in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The lawsuit was first reported by the Philadelphia Daily News.
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