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01/15/2003 2:00 pm ET 
Inside Pitch - Six more invited to camp

Mike Schmidt will return to Spring Training again as a special hitting instructor. (Kathy Willens/AP)
Outfielder McKay Christensen, catchers Russ Jacobson and Jeremy Salazar and pitchers Jim Crowell, Geoff Geary and Cary Hiles have all been invited as non-roster players to spring training, Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. announced today.

•  McKay Christensen, of - Christensen spent most of last season with triple-A Norfolk, batting .284 in 97 games. He appeared in just four games with the Mets and went 1-for-3. In 99 career major league games, the 27-year-old has a .250 average (32-128) with the White Sox (1999-2001), Dodgers (2001) and Mets (2002).

•  Russ Jacobson, c - After being selected by the Phillies in the third round of the 1999 draft, Jacobson, 26, hit 19 home runs in 102 games for single-A Piedmont in 2000. He spent this past year with double-A Reading and hit .273 in the Arizona Fall League following the season.

•  Jeremy Salazar, c - Salazar will take part in his second straight big league spring training. A 19th round selection by the Phillies in the 1998 draft, the 26-year-old caught for triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2002 and threw out 47 percent (7-15) of potential base stealers in 42 games.

•  Jim Crowell, lhp - After spending most of the 2002 season with the Atlantic City Surf of the independent Atlantic League, Crowell, 28, signed with the Phillies in mid-August and went 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA in four starts down the stretch for Scranton. At the major league level, he made two appearances for Cincinnati in 1997 and made his major league debut at Veterans Stadium.

•  Geoff Geary, rhp - In five minor league seasons with the Phillies, Geary has posted a 39-24 (.619) record with a 3.50 ERA, splitting his time as both a starter and reliever. This past season, the 26-year-old compiled a 3.03 ERA in 38 games (eight starts) for Scranton. Geary has logged over 100.0 innings in each of his four full seasons in the minor leagues.

•  Cary Hiles, rhp - In 213 appearances in the Phillies minor league system, Hiles, a 23rd round selection in the 1998 draft, has compiled a 3.02 ERA to go along with 75 saves. The 27-year-old split this past season between Reading and Scranton and then went to the Arizona Fall League where he posted a 2.37 ERA in 17 appearances.

These six invitees join infielder Mike Coolbaugh, catchers Jesse Levis and Todd Pratt and righthanders Gavin Floyd and Amaury Telemaco.

Due to the untimely death of his father, pitcher Jose Mesa will not be able to participate in the Phillies 35th annual Winter Tour as previously advertised. The Phillies send their sympathy to Jose and his family during this trying time.

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt will once again join the Phillies in spring training this year as a special hitting instructor beginning February 24 and staying for a week before re-joining the team March 24 for the final week of games.

The rest of the spring training coaching staff will be: triple-A manager Marc Bombard and his coaches, Jerry Martin and Mike Mason; Gulf Coast manager and pitching coach Ruben Amaro Sr. and Carlos Arroyo; minor league coordinators Mick Billmeyer, Bill Dancy, Gorman Heimueller, Don Long, Ron Oester and Milt Thompson; and special assistant to the GM, Charlie Manuel.

The Phillies have begun preparing for the disposition of Veterans Stadium property by adding John Nash, a well-known Philadelphia sports figure, to oversee the process, Michael Stiles, Vice President, Operations and Administration, announced today.

"John brings great experience to this project as he has worked in many important capacities in professional sports franchises in Philadelphia and elsewhere," stated Stiles.

The Phillies own the rights to dispose of assets (seats, clubhouse lockers, the turf, dugouts, etc.) of Veterans Stadium before it is demolished. Nash will be the point person for organizing this effort. Demolition remains under the jurisdiction of John Stranix, the New Ballpark Project Manager.

Nash has served as General Manager of the 76ers, Washington Bullets, New Jersey Nets, as well as the Executive Secretary for the Big Five. His office will be in the Maggio Building, home of the project team for the New Ballpark.

The Phillies equipment truck leaves for Clearwater on Friday, February 7, which signals the beginning of spring training! Pitchers and catchers have their first workout the following Friday, February 14 with full-squad workouts beginning Wednesday, February 19.

The Phillies signed outfielder Garry Maddox Jr. to a minor league contract. The son of the former Phillies All-Star center fielder of the same name, Maddox spent last season in the independent Atlantic League, splitting time with Pennsylvania, Camden and Atlantic City. He hit 18 home runs in just 283 at-bats and finished second in the Atlantic League in home run/at-bat ratio (1 HR/15.7 AB).

Originally signed by Arizona as a non-drafted free agent in 1996, Maddox has played in the Diamondbacks, Astros and Red Sox minor league systems, while also spending part of the 2000 season in the Mexican League. In 625 minor league games, Maddox carries a .289 average with 127 doubles, 63 home runs, 300 RBI and 73 stolen bases.

Former major league outfielder Luis Melendez has joined the Phillies Player Development staff and will manage single-A Batavia for the 2003 season.

Melendez, 54, spent the majority of his eight-year (1970-77) career with the Cardinals. A native of Puerto Rico, he finished his career with a .248 average.

The Phillies 35th annual
Winter Tour kicks off today at the Ocean County Mall in Toms River, NJ.

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