Phillies release Karim Garcia, likely to keep Bourn, Dobbs

Posted: March 29, 2007

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies' bench, which includes Greg Dobbs and Michael Bourn, appears to be complete.

The Phillies yesterday released outfielder Karim Garcia, whom they had signed Jan. 26 to a minor-league contract. Garcia looked like a decent bet to be the team's fifth outfielder behind Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. But the Phils said others - they wouldn't give names yesterday - had "stepped forward" during spring training.

The "others" are Dobbs and Bourn, but the Phillies haven't made it official. Rosters must be set by 3 p.m. Sunday, but those two are expected to join a bench that includes Abraham Nuñez, Carlos Ruiz and Werth.

"It looks like, for the time being, I'm here," Dobbs said after yesterday's 9-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Bright House Networks Field. "You never know. Tomorrow might change."

"I do want to play up north," Bourn said. "That's my dream. I'm not going to be checking the roster. They'll let me know when it's time to make the team or the other option."

Manager Charlie Manuel said he preferred to open the season with five outfielders. Bourn is the only outfielder left in camp other than Dobbs, who plays the corner infield and outfield positions. (Outfielder Ron Calloway will make the trip to Philadelphia for an exhibition series against Boston, but he has been told he will open the season with triple-A Ottawa.)

Catcher Chris Coste would be a candidate for the bench, but he has been slow to recover from a strained right hamstring and is expected to open the season on the disabled list. He has just 18 at-bats this spring.

Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. commended the 31-year-old Garcia.

"We loved his effort," Amaro said. "He was very professional about the way he went about his work."

Garcia said he would look for work elsewhere, but if he didn't succeed, he would consider an invitation to join triple-A Ottawa. He hit .305 (18 for 59) with a home run and seven RBIs.

The Phillies told Garcia they didn't think they could give him enough at-bats for him to be effective. Garcia also had a clause in his contract that required the club to release him if he wasn't on the 25-man roster by April 1. The Phils simply cut him loose a few days early. It saved them the $700,000 he would have received if he had made the team.

"I understand," Garcia said. "I tried to do my best, but when you're playing in spring training, you're playing for 29 other teams. I want to keep playing. But, realistically, it's March 28 and most teams have their rosters set. My agent is talking to a lot of teams, and hopefully something will open up."

Bourn went 0 for 1 with a walk and a run yesterday against the Devil Rays. He is hitting .286 (16 for 56) with three doubles, two triples, six stolen bases and nine RBIs. He has scored 16 runs, which rank second in the Grapefruit League. Manuel was asked whether he thinks Bourn still needs regular at-bats to be effective.

"I think any young guy needs at-bats, but it depends on the role he's going to play on your club," the manager said.

Bourn said he wasn't sure how he would perform in a limited role. He's never done it before.

Bourn, who hits lefthanded, brings speed and defense to the bench. Manuel said he considered Bourn the team's defensive outfielder, and although he said he was least comfortable in left field, it's not difficult to picture Bourn as a late-inning replacement for leftfielder Pat Burrell.

He also could get some at-bats as a centerfielder.

Dobbs went 1 for 2 with a double and two RBIs yesterday. He is hitting .393 (22 for 56) with four doubles, a triple, four homers and 17 RBIs.

Dobbs, whom the Phillies claimed off waivers from Seattle on Jan. 16, provides a much-needed lefthanded bat off the bench.

"It got down to what we're keeping," Manuel said of the decision to release Garcia. "Right now, we haven't made a decision on exactly what we're going to do. Coste is still hurt. We have to wait and see where we're at in the next couple of days."


Contact staff writer Todd Zolecki

at 215-854-4874 or tzolecki@phillynews.com.

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