Phillies Update

There's a perception that the first three candidates that interviewed for the Phillies manager's job were the real candidates. The theory goes that the current round of interviews is just for show. GM Ed Wade moved to dismiss that theory, while one candidated moved to dismiss a past incident. Plus, Tomas Perez returns, Rheal Cormier might return and the Phillies are trying to get Eric Milton to return.

General manager Ed Wade sternly denied that the current round of managerial interviews represents the second-string candidates.

"That's absolutely unfair," Wade said.

At the same time, there remains a conviction that the next Phillies manager is likely to be one of the hopefuls interviewed in the first week -- former Indians manager and current Phillies special assistant Charlie Manuel or one-time Red Sox manager Grady Little.

Former Rockies and Cubs manager Don Baylor was also interviewed the first week. Buddy Bell interviewed on Monday, followed by Jim Fregosi on Tuesday. John Russell interviews on Wednesday, followed by Terry Pendleton on Thursday.

However, Phillies insiders speculate that Manuel was the frontrunner coming into the competition but that Little made a good case for himself when he talked to Wade and his top baseball people.

"I'm glad I'm coming back. We've got some unfinished business." - Closer Billy Wagner when he was told the Phillies picked up his option for 2005.

Little is best known for his decision to leave Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, a move that helped cost the Red Sox a chance to go to the World Series and helped get Little fired.

He preferred to talk about what he would do to make the 2005 Phillies better.

"I've got the ability to make players want to play and want to win," he boasted. "I like players. I respect players, and the feeling is always mutual. From there I think you can get the best results."

The rap on Larry Bowa, who was fired after four stormy seasons, was that he created too much tension in the clubhouse.

"These guys are human beings," Little said. "They're in the limelight and they're expected to perform good every day. That's just not going to happen. And I understand that and they know that I understand that." 

Notes from Philly:

  • Tomas Perez, a valuable and versatile reserve, re-signed with the Phillies rather than enter free agency. Perez got a two-year deal with the Phillies holding an option on a third season. Terms of the deal weren't announced at the request of Perez, who lives in Venezuela and is concerned for his family's safety after recent violent events in that country.
  • Eric Milton, who led the Phillies with 14 wins last season and can be a free agent, has told the team he doesn't want to negotiate until he knows who the next manager and pitching coach are going to be. Milton could attract interest from the Yankees and Red Sox. The Phillies do have an offer on the table for Milton, should he decide that he wants to return to Philadelphia.
  • Rheal Cormier has reportedly told closer Billy Wagner that he's likely to return to the Phillies next season. Cormier, 37, can be a free agent and also talked about retiring at the end of the season.
  • Cole Hamels, one of the Phillies' top prospects, appears fully recovered after a season at Class A Clearwater that was marred by elbow problems. He's currently throwing in the Florida Instructional League. "He looks like his arm is fine. I don't see any issues there at all," said Mike Arbuckle, assistant general manager, scouting and player development. Hamels could be back in big-league camp next spring and begin the season at Double-A Reading.

The numbers game:  67,650,000 -- Dollars already committed to nine players for 2005. That leaves an estimated $21 million for the remaining 16 players on the roster.

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