Notes: Lowell not in the picture
General manager Gillick refutes report posted on ESPN.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Gillick didn't mince words when the question was asked.An ESPN.com report suggested that the Phillies are preparing a hard pursuit of free agent third baseman Mike Lowell, and Philadelphia's general manager offered a quick denial. "You can't believe everything you see on ESPN.com," Gillick said. "Our concentration is pitching. We're not focusing on any position players at the moment." That would leave the Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox and Yankees, at least for now, to fight over Lowell, who hit a career-high .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs for the World Series champion Red Sox, and who was named the MVP of this year's Fall Classic. Boston has a three-year deal on the table for the 33-year-old and the Yankees are seeking him as a first baseman, assuming that Alex Rodriguez returns to New York. The Phillies appear willing to go with an infield of Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms and Eric Bruntlett while they focus on improving their pitching. With only $10 million to $15 million left to spend -- assuming they stay within their stated payroll goal of $100 million to $105 million -- that doesn't leave any room for Lowell. Good-bye Iguchi: Tadahito Iguchi is also not a likely third-base option, either. The Phillies officially released Iguchi on Thursday, as per a contract stipulation that gave him the right to demand his release if not re-signed. Iguchi was approached about playing third base, but he told the Phillies he'd prefer to stay at second. "He thinks he can get an everyday job playing second, and he and his agent are probably correct in that assumption," Gillick said. "His first priority is to seek out a job at second. If not, he'll think about third."
Rowand update: There really isn't one.While continuing their single-minded pursuit of pitching, the Phillies continue to monitor the situation with outfielder Aaron Rowand. They would like to figure out a way to bring him back, though it appears to be a tough fit for the budget. Rowand is on the open market and fielding offers from other teams. Indications are that his agent, Craig Landis, could give the Phillies a final chance to match a proposal. "We talk to Rowand every couple of days," Gillick said. "He's out there looking at the market, so we'll have to wait and see. We have an idea, and hopefully, it will work out, but somebody might go a little further than we want to go." Quotable: "We have to improve our pitching. You don't need as much offense if the other team scores fewer runs. Hopefully, the move with [Brett] Myers will strengthen our rotation." --Gillick
Philling in: Cole Hamels tied for sixth place in the National League Cy Young Award voting, unveiled on Thursday. He received two third-place votes.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.