A typically celebratory occasion — the first official day of spring training — took on a more serious tone Wednesday as the Mets dealt with the fallout of firing another employee for behaving inappropriately toward women, the third Mets-related such episode in the past month.
Hitting coordinator Ryan Ellis, who had been with the organization since 2006 working mostly in minor-league roles, was let go in January, a source said.
The Mets terminated an employee "for violating company policy and failure to meet the Mets’ standards for professionalism and personal conduct," the team said in a statement issued Wednesday, which did not mention Ellis by name.
The firing became public when a report from The Athletic on Wednesday detailed complaints filed internally in 2018 by three women who worked for the Mets at the time or previously. He made lewd comments in person and sent inappropriate, unwanted texts, according to the women.
According to the Mets, the saga began in July 2018 — during then-GM, now-president Sandy Alderson’s leave of absence because of cancer — when they received "a complaint regarding inappropriate conduct."
"The organization initiated an investigation and, as a result, the employee was disciplined, put into a probationary status, and ordered into counseling," the Mets said in a statement. "We had not received previous or subsequent complaints about this employee.
"On January 19 of this year, following the termination of Jared Porter, we received new information regarding conduct of the disciplined employee in the 2017-2018 time frame. We immediately commenced a new investigation and terminated the employee on January 22."
The Mets fired Porter after he admitted to sending dozens of unanswered texts, some of them lewd, to a female reporter. They did not elaborate on the "new information" regarding Ellis.
"We believe the complaints were investigated properly by our HR personnel and in accordance with our reporting procedures at that time," the team said.
Manager Luis Rojas, asked about Ellis Wednesday afternoon during his first video news conference of the year, noted that the Mets have "set new expectations" under owner Steve Cohen, who completed his purchase of the team in November.
Rojas also referenced "new avenues of reporting these cases," which a source said is a third-party hotline arranged by the Mets. Employees can call — anonymously, if they choose — to report violations of the company conduct code.
"Those misconducts, they're just unacceptable," Rojas said. "We should have a safe environment to work. Safe workplace. And everyone should feel safe around here."
Ellis worked with the major-league team for the first time last year, bumped up because hitting coach Chili Davis worked remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ellis also served as a minor-league hitting coordinator, manager and coach in his nearly decade and a half with the Mets.
Rojas, who also started with the Mets during the 2006 season and worked in the minors until 2019, said his relationship with Ellis was "strictly baseball." He said he never saw Ellis exhibit the sort of behavior reported.
The third Mets-related episode involves former manager Mickey Callaway, who according to The Athletic was a serial offender, behaving inappropriately toward at least five female media members before, during and after his time in New York. He was suspended from his duties as Angels pitching coach more than two weeks ago, pending an investigation by MLB.
Rojas said it is "upsetting" and "disappointing" to keep hearing about these issues.
"Our new ownership has definitely set a new set of expectations they put out," he said. "I'm pretty confident that this type of behavior is something that is just going to be unacceptable in this organization. I'll just leave it at that."
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