Hamels Invited; Rollins, Padilla, Polanco Signed

The Phillies took care of some housekeeping issues as spring training keeps moving closer and closer. Three of the four Phillies who were eligible for arbitration signed one-year deals, while only Jason Michaels had to exchange final contract figures with the Phillies. Plus, the Phillies added three young players to their list on non-roster invitees. Plus, a look at other Phillies notes and a rundown of their off-season moves.

The Phillies announced that left-hander Cole Hamels, the organization's top pitching prospect, is coming to big-league camp as a non-roster invitee. As recently as a month ago the Phils were leaning toward having the 21-year-old quietly come to camp with the other minor leaguers in March.

Part of the change was because of Hamels' impressive performance in the Florida Instructional League after he missed most of last season with a tender elbow. But a member of the front office also pointed out that Hamels wouldn't be in big-league camp this spring if Larry Bowa was still managing. The Phillies have placed a higher amount of trust in how new manager Charlie Manuel will use Hamels this spring, compared to the extended look that Bowa gave the young pitcher last year.

General manager Ed Wade did mention that Hamels' arm problems arose last spring when he received a longer-than-expected look from the big-league staff. "We've gotten feedback that his arm bothered him during the big-league camp," Wade said. "But we thought he handled himself very well last season, and he finished sound (in the FIL season), so in all likelihood we'll bring him into big-league camp. I'm sure we'll sit down with Cole and impress upon him that he's not there to win a job."

Hamels is often compared to Tampa Bay southpaw Scott Kazmir, who also was a first-round pick in the 2002 draft. Although Kazmir finished last season in the majors, Hamels is slated to start 2005 with Double-A Reading.

In addition to Hamels, the Phillies also invited catchers Tim Gradoville and Trent Pratt to major league camp this spring.

Done Deals: The Phillies have officially avoided arbitration with three of their four arbitration eligible players.

  • Jimmy Rollins signed a one-year deal worth $3.85 million for the 2005 season. It's a substantial bump from the $1.42 million he received last season. The two sides continue to work on a long-term deal that would keep Rollins in Philly for the foreseeable future.
  • The Phillies avoided arbitration with Vicente Padilla. The two sides agreed toa one-year, $3.2 million deal, which also includes performance bonuses. The final contract was modeled after the deal that kip Wells signed with the Pirates - a one-year, $3.125 million deal - to avoid arbitration.
  • Infielder Placido Polanco, who surprised the Phillies and accepted their offer of arbitration, agreed to a one-year, $4.6 million deal, an increase of $650,000 over what he was paid last season. Manager Charlie Manuel thinks he can get Polanco a substantial number of at bats as an all around utility player with the club.
  • OF Jason Michaels and the Phillies exchanged arbitration figures. The Phillies are offering $650,000 and Michaels is asking for $925,000 for the 2005 season. Both sides are hoping to reach a deal before an arbitration hearing is scheduled.
The Numbers Game: 35.4 - Percent drop in strikeouts for Jimmy Rollins from 2003 (113) to 2004 (73).

He said what? "He'll get more at-bats than he thinks he will." - Charlie Manuel, on Placido Polanco. Manuel wouldn't rule out the possibility of Polanco seeing some playing action in the outfield.

The Roster Rundown:

The Phillies welcomed Terry Adams back to their bullpen after a one-year absence, signing him to a one-year, $500,000 deal that includes incentives. The Phils signed Adams, 31, as a free agent before the 2002 season as a starting pitcher. After struggling in the role, Adams was returned to the bullpen, where he thrived in the latter part of 2002 and in 2003 (1-4, 2.65 ERA in 66 games). He pitched for Toronto (4-4, 3.98 ERA) and Boston (2-0, 6.00 ERA) last season.

ARRIVALS: CF Kenny Lofton (trade with Yankees), RHP Jon Lieber (free agent from Yankees), LHP Aaron Fultz (claimed on waivers from Minnesota), CF Shane Victorino (Rule 5 draft from Los Angeles), RHP Terry Adams (free agent from Red Sox).

DEPARTURES: RHP Felix Rodriguez (traded to Yankees), LHP Eric Milton (not offered arbitration, signed with Cincinnati), RHP Kevin Millwood (not offered arbitration, signed with Cleveland), RHP Roberto Hernandez (not offered arbitration, signed minor league deal with the New York Mets), RHP Todd Jones (not offered arbitration, signed with Florida), INF Lou Collier (non-tendered), C Michel Hernandez (non-tendered).

BIGGEST NEEDS: The Phillies might try to acquire another southpaw to compete for a bullpen spot, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see them enter spring training in their present state.

IN LIMBO: CF Marlon Byrd is on the market with Kenny Lofton firmly set in center. The Phillies are open to trade discussions about Mike Lieberthal, but it would require a catcher coming to the team in return. Even then, Lieberthal can veto any trade.

MEDICAL WATCH: The news has been encouraging for Randy Wolf (foot surgery), who has been throwing in California and is expected to be 100 percent when pitchers and catchers arrive in Clearwater, Fla., on February 17.


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