Notes: Tribe trying to trade Phillips

Notes: Tribe trying to trade Phillips

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- General manager Mark Shapiro will make one pronouncement on the future of infielder Brandon Phillips.

"We'll be able to trade him," Shapiro said Thursday. "Definitively."

Beyond that, the Indians do not have a specific trade worked out for Phillips, and Shapiro is not commenting on which teams he's talked to about the former top prospect.

Phillips left Indians camp Wednesday after the team informed him that it will go with Ramon Vazquez as the utility infielder on Opening Day.

But Phillips remains in the organization, and he would be used on the off chance an injury occurs to Vazquez, Jhonny Peralta or Ronnie Belliard in the final days of Spring Training.

"If we don't have an injury, we'll designate [Phillips for assignment] Saturday," Shapiro said, "and either trade him at that point or trade him over the course of the 10 days."

More likely than not, Phillips will be traded after the last out of Saturday's game against the Reds in Sarasota. Thus will come to an end Phillips' tenure with the Tribe, which was spotty at best.

The Indians acquired Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee in the 2002 trade that sent Bartolo Colon to the Expos. Sizemore signed a six-year contract Wednesday, and Lee garnered Cy Young votes in '05, but Phillips has spent the majority of the last three years at Triple-A Buffalo.

Phillips began the 2003 season as the everyday starter at second base, only to be sent down at the All-Star break. He's basically been a Bison ever since.

Shapiro was asked what went wrong with Phillips, who was considered by many to be the most valuable prospect acquired by the Indians at the time of the Colon deal.

"You can talk about the path a little bit and whether or not we should have kept him in the big leagues as long as we did when he struggled," Shapiro said. "It's more difficult for guys of his profile to make adjustments, because they believe so strongly in their talents. It may take something like this to get them to make those adjustments."

Shapiro said he didn't see significant adjustments in Phillips' approach this spring. His formerly cocky attitude was much improved, as were his numbers. But he still tended to swing for the fences, rather than focusing on contact.

"We saw similar things to what we've seen in the past," Shapiro said. "We didn't see anything we hadn't seen before. You can take that off the record any way you want."

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Quiet camp: With the 25-man roster set, outside of the paperwork that will come Saturday, Shapiro is confident with the assembled club.

"I feel good about the 25," he said. "And I feel good about the next 10, too, which is good. That's important. It's a good situation for us to be in. There are areas I'd like to be better and there are areas that are very much unknown, but it's a good group."

The Indians had few decisions to make in camp, as the only available jobs were the seventh bullpen spot (Danny Graves), utility infielder (Vazquez) and backup catcher (Kelly Shoppach). Todd Hollandsworth came in as the front-runner to be the fourth outfielder, and Jason Dubois' hot spring didn't change that.

The relative lack of drama gave Shapiro a chance to evaluate depth matters, such as the performance of prospects Fausto Carmona, Andy Marte and Ryan Garko.

"Most importantly," Shapiro said, "it's been, thus far, a healthy spring."

Shapiro said his greatest area of concern coming into the season is at shortstop, where the Indians would have a significant drop-off in production if something were to happen to Peralta.

Still around, for now: Steve Karsay, who lost out on the bullpen job, and Einar Diaz, who was beat out by Shoppach, both showed up to Minor League camp on Thursday.

The two have outs in their Minor League contracts that allow them to pursue a big-league opportunity with another club. For now, they're staying with the Indians, and if something isn't worked out with another team, both could find themselves in Triple-A Buffalo to start the year.

"Both guys are guys we have long-standing relationships with, and we're not going to stand in the way of a Major League job," Shapiro said. "I would not say that these decisions end the possibility that they'll be in an Indians uniform this year. If they get a Major League opportunity prior to that, we're not going to stand in their way."

Long-term Lee? The Indians are still talking to Darek Braunecker, the agent for Lee, about a long-term contract for the left-hander.

The Indians already have worked out long-term deals with Peralta and Sizemore this month. Shapiro has said the deadline for long-term discussions is Saturday, though he did say that if the Lee talks get a little more firm in the coming days, he's willing to take them into the first few days of the season.

"We'll seek a figure out in the next 48 hours," Shapiro said. "If there's momentum, we'll take it into the season. If not, we'll table it until the next window, which most likely is next offseason."

Another TV deal: SportsTime Ohio has signed an agreement with Armstrong Cable to carry the new channel this season.

Armstrong services Ohio cities Medina/Orrville, Ashland and Boardman, as well as Meadville, Pa.

Armstrong subscribers will see 130 games, including pregame and postgame shows, during the '06 season.

The real deal: Hundreds of women wear "Mrs. Sizemore" T-shirts to Indians games, but the real Mrs. Sizemore was in Winter Haven this week.

Yep, that's right -- Grady's mom, Donna.

During Wednesday's press conference announcing the Sizemore signing, Shapiro made the comment that Donna is the only Mrs. Sizemore, minus the T-shirt. Sizemore corrected him.

"Actually she's got the shirt," Sizemore said. "She got it the other day."

On deck: The Indians will play their final home game of the Spring Training schedule when they face the Reds at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Chain of Lakes Park. Lee will make the start against left-hander Brandon Claussen.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.