Lohse still looking for right fit
Right-hander in shape, hoping to find new home in 2008
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Kyle Lohse wakes up early most mornings for daily maintenance, a combination of regimented weight lifting and aerobic exercises.When not in the gym four or five times a week, Lohse pitches to various friends in neighborhood tree-lined parks and may soon continue this regimen at Glendale Junior College, not far from his Scottsdale, Ariz., home. Either way, it's a ways off from mounds on crisply tailored diamonds at Spring Training complexes. Lohse keeps this up out of personal discipline, and in anticipation of a career opportunity he hoped would've long arrived by now. "I've been throwing sides to stay ready," Lohse said, by phone from Scottsdale. "I do what I need to do to stay healthy, and feel like I'll be able to jump right into Spring Training somewhere." If only someone would call. After going 3-0 in 11 starts for the Phillies last season and helping them earn a playoff berth, the 29-year-old is in the weird spot of being unemployed. Despite posting a 63-74 career record with a 4.82 ERA -- and more importantly, never spending a day on the disabled list -- Lohse finds himself at an unexpected crossroads. It's believed that his agent, Scott Boras, who also has unemployed clients in Jeff Weaver and Corey Patterson, has asked for too much. "I think Kyle is going to be very good, because he's one of the few guys that are in that batch of 27- to 28-year-old arms," Boras said on Sept. 14, when possibilities seemed endless. "There's not that many guys that fall into that class. The other thing about Kyle is he's been durable and he's pitched in the playoffs. He has a resume a lot of teams will look at because he's been successful." So what happened? "I don't know," Lohse said. "I really don't. I'm not to the point, yet, where I'm really frustrated. I like being out there with the guys and I still feel I will be soon enough. Sure, it's been a while since I was home this late in February, and being on my own is weird. I'm still trying to find a good fit. We have some options and I feel like something will work out." A market flush with cash may have burst when Carlos Silva -- a comparable pitcher to Lohse -- landed a four-year, $48 million contract from Seattle, though that may have sent shivers through the industry. Lohse remained patient, perhaps hoping for a similar offer. Rumors linked him to many teams, including the Mets, Nationals, Orioles and Phillies. Lohse said he would still welcome a return to Philadelphia, but the Phillies didn't like his salary demands after they were shunned in what was believed to have been an offer in the three-year, $20-million range. Of course, that could change if Brad Lidge's right knee is serious, and Brett Myers shifts back to the bullpen. That led to further speculation that his asking price was too high, a claim Lohse said isn't true.
"I'm not asking for the world," he said. "I never was. The market has been so weird this offseason. I'm surprised with the way things have gone, but I want to do what's right for my family."Looking at it from the perspective of not having spent a day on the DL, I know there are teams that would like to have that. I'm still in a position where I think I'm a good option for a lot of teams." Lohse said he hasn't considered playing on another continent and isn't interested in signing a Minor League deal. He declined to discuss specifics. He maintained his sense of humor and said he hasn't begun searching for beer-league softball games. "Maybe Little League," he said. That sense of humor has allowed Lohse to keep his perspective. "I don't miss covering first base 20 times a day," Lohse said, referring to pitcher's fielding drills. "That's one of the few pluses. I can go to the park now and do some dry work and try to remember where first base is. I'll throw an imaginary pitch and cover first. Then I will have gone crazy." Crazy? No. Bored and surprised? Absolutely. While he jokes about not missing the monotony of Spring Training mornings, he longs for it. He can't escape the irony of living so close to one of the many Spring Training locations throughout his home state. "Obviously, at this point, some of the options are gone, but we're trying to get things done without rushing into it," Lohse said. "I have a couple of things that are out there. I'm not sitting around feeling sorry for myself. I'm still going to get paid to play a game. At some point, I'll be OK. It's not like I'm at the end of my rope trying to hang on. I'm trying to find a match that is right for me." "I'll admit that it's tough to stay busy and trying to not drive my wife crazy. She's ready for me to get out of here and go find a job."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.