Mailbag: Coaching future for Lieberthal?
Beat reporter Ken Mandel answers fans' questions
Now that Mike Lieberthal has announced his retirement, is there a chance he'll return to the Phillies as a coach or instructor?
-- Ludo, K., Amsterdam
-- Weston B., Princeton, N.J. To reiterate last week's explanation, it's not a question of whether Howard will be signed. The arbitration process merely determines his 2008 salary. The sides are $3 million apart. Unless they settle somewhere in the middle between now and Feb. 20 (his scheduled hearing date), a three-person panel will hear both sides and decide between the $7 million and $10 million figure. The only way Howard doesn't play for the Phillies between now and 2011 is if he's traded. What is Freddy Garcia's status?
-- Tom P., Woodbury, N.J. Garcia is still a free agent and still not returning to Philadelphia. That chapter has been closed.
Have a question about the Phillies?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
What is Mike Zagurski's injury status? Does he have a realistic shot to make the squad with a good Spring Training, or is he ticketed to get more seasoning down in Triple-A?
-- Ron M., Ventnor, N.J.
-- Kyle C., Middletown, Del. Smith likely won't be a factor this season, as the lefty recovers from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. Assuming the Phillies go with 12 pitchers, it appears the 12th man will come from a group that includes Clay Condrey, Fabio Castro, J.D. Durbin, Anderson Garcia, Joe Bisenius, Francisco Rosario and Rule 5 Draft picks Travis Blackley and Lincoln Holdzkom. Two others, Scott Mathieson and Shane Youman, are considered starters. There's only one spot open because the fifth reliever will likely be swingman Chad Durbin. What are the chances of the Phillies keeping either Javon Moran or Greg Golson for added late-inning speed to replace the lost speed of Chris Roberson and Michael Bourn?
-- John C., Malvern, Pa. Nil. It is more important for those players to develop in the Minors, not serve as pinch-runners late in games, not to mention that neither player is anywhere close to being Major League ready. Also, manager Charlie Manuel needs a better hitting option than a one-dimensional player (at this point) who can only run.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.