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12/15/09 12:11 PM EST

Amezaga garnering lots of attention

Florida's chances of re-signing utility player diminishing

MIAMI -- Returning to the Marlins is an option for the all-purpose Alfredo Amezaga. However, it's not the only alternative for the 31-year-old, who is drawing plenty of attention as a free agent.

According to Amezaga's agent, Mike Nicotera, the number of teams who have inquired about the utility standout is "well into double digits."

Nicotera didn't reveal a specific number or identify teams, but it is clear that his client is in high demand.

Because Amezaga is recovering from microfracture surgery to his left knee, the Marlins felt it was too risky to tender him a contract at Saturday's midnight ET deadline. A natural middle infielder who is an above average defensive center fielder, Amezaga made $1.3 million this past year, appearing in just 27 games.

With Amezaga entering his final season of arbitration, the Marlins were looking at paying him at least what he made this past year. Florida's hope is to sign Amezaga back at a lower salary, or just above $1 million.

Chances of that happening might be diminished because the money-strapped organization isn't in position to win a bidding battling.

"Between midnight [Saturday] and 2 a.m., I didn't get off the phone," Nicotera said. "There is an understanding with the Marlins that we would get a sense of the interest level in Alfredo from other clubs."

One of the top utility players in the league, Amezaga is an attractive option for clubs because he is a switch-hitter and he can play so many different positions at a high level.

If Amezaga doesn't return to the Marlins, Emilio Bonifacio is a candidate to fill his role. Bonifacio, though, may wind up being the starting second baseman if Dan Uggla is traded.

The big question with Amezaga is his left knee. Currently, he's yet to begin his running program.

Nicotera said the timeline set in his recovery is for him to be ready for the start of Spring Training, which is two months away.

Dr. Richard Steadman performed the microfracture surgery in Vail, Col., in early July, and he is in the process of giving additional medical updates to Amezaga.

A native of Mexico, Amezaga is spending the offseason in Miami, doing his rehab. Since surgery, he has gone through his healing phase, and he's well into his strengthening phase. Running is the next phase.

"He's had no pain since the week after surgery," Nicotera said. "He's right on schedule. The program they put together is to have him go into Spring Training as a normal player, ready to go, with no restrictions."

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