Mets manager Luis Rojas condemned the behavior of former New York hitting performance coordinator Ryan Ellis on Wednesday but said he never witnessed his longtime co-worker act inappropriately. Ellis was fired last month for sexual harassment.
The Athletic reported Wednesday that in the summer of 2018, three female Mets employees complained to human resources that Ellis, then the minor league hitting coordinator, had directed lewd comments to them in person and via text message.
Ellis, promoted to the big league coaching staff last summer, was fired last month after New York investigated the matter for a second time. His dismissal came shortly after the club fired newly hired general manager Jared Porter for sending sexually explicit, uninvited text messages and images to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Chicago Cubs.
Former Mets manager Mickey Callaway, now the pitching coach for the Los Angeles Angels, was suspended this month and is under investigation amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward several women who work in sports media.
In a statement to The Athletic, New York said it investigated and disciplined Ellis in 2018 but did not terminate his employment. The team said it received new information in January regarding Ellis' behavior in 2017-18 and fired him Jan. 22 for "violating company policy and failure to meet the Mets' standards for professionalism and personal conduct."
"We've set new expectations," Rojas said from the club's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida. "There's also new avenues added to report cases like this. It's been disappointing. I'm sorry to see it from afar."
Ellis, a former minor league infielder, was hired by the Mets as a minor league coach in 2006. Rojas joined the franchise a year later as manager of its Dominican Summer League team, and both had been with the organization since, spending most of that time in the minor leagues.
Rojas was thrust into the job as New York's manager in January 2020 after Carlos Beltran was fired 77 days into his tenure for his role in the 2017 Houston Astros' cheating scandal. Ellis joined the big league staff for the pandemic-shortened regular season after hitting coach Chili Davis opted out. Ellis was with the team throughout the 60-game season.
"My relationship with Ryan, knowing him for years here in the Mets organization, has been strictly baseball," Rojas said. "That's what we had as far as conversations."
"Those misconducts, they're just unacceptable," he added. "We should have a safe environment to work in, a safe workplace."
Rojas said he's had regular video meetings with his coaching staff this offseason, and Ellis had not been a part of that group because Davis is returning for the 2021 season.
The women who spoke to The Athletic about Ellis described sexually explicit comments made in person and persistent, unwanted text messages that were sexual in nature.
Rojas credited new owner Steve Cohen for responding swiftly to the allegations against Porter and Ellis and pointed to new reporting procedures the team put in place for employees to report illicit behavior, including an external hotline that allows employees to remain anonymous if they prefer.
Major League Baseball has adopted a similar hotline for league and team employees that is also available to non-league employees, such as journalists.
"I'm pretty confident that this type of behavior is something that is going to be unacceptable in this organization," Rojas said. "I'll just leave it at that."