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12/07/07 5:20 PM ET

Phillips becomes free agent

Former Yankees first baseman declines Triple-A assignment

NEW YORK -- First baseman Andy Phillips refused an outright assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday and is set to become a free agent.

Phillips, 30, was designated for assignment by the Yankees on Monday to clear space on the 40-man roster for catcher Jose Molina, who was signed to a two-year, $4 million deal.

"He's going to look and see what's out there," said Phillips' agent, Rex Gary. "He proved that he is a Major League player and would have been the Yankees' first baseman all throughout the season had he not gotten hurt. If he's not going to get that opportunity with the Yankees, he'd like to get that opportunity elsewhere."

Phillips batted .292 with two home runs and 25 RBIs in a checkered 61-game campaign for New York this past season, making 49 starts at first base.

In the mix to make the Opening Day roster as the right-handed-hitting complement of a first-base platoon with Doug Mientkiewicz, Phillips missed a week of valuable at-bats when his mother, Linda, was involved in a serious automobile accident in his home state of Alabama.

The Yankees decided on Rule 5 Draft selection Josh Phelps to open the season in New York, while Phillips accepted an assignment to Triple-A, eventually earning his callup on June 19 in Colorado.

Phillips became the Yankees' everyday first baseman for a stretch, but his season ended early after he was hit by a Jason Hammel pitch in a Sept. 2 game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium, fracturing the pisiform bone of his right wrist and requiring surgery.

His agent said that Phillips' recovery is going well and that he will be ready for Spring Training.

A seventh-round pick of the Yankees in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, Phillips is a career .253 hitter in 203 Major League games over four seasons with New York from 2004-07. The Yankees are preparing to spread their first-base duties for 2008 among Shelley Duncan, Jason Giambi and Wilson Betemit.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.