Jim Leyland told Detroit reporters this morning that Gary Sheffield, the veteran slugger released yesterday by the Tigers, has received serious interest from three major league teams, one of them presumably being the Phillies.
Phillies officials were unsure yesterday about their chances of whether the righthander would wind up fitting and landing with the club. But for the moment, the possibility remains alive.
Agent Rufus Williams characterized a conversation he had with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. yesterday as "productive" and said that Sheffield had not dismissed the idea of filling a role similar to the one the Phillies are searching for -- a right-handed bat with some power to pinch-hit and fill in occasionally in the field. At this point in time, though, it appears the Phillies are in wait-and-see mode.
Sheffield will not be able to sign with any team until he clears waivers tomorrow.
Also, the Phillies have acquired minor league righthander Manny Ayala from the Padres for a player to be named later. Ayala, 24, went 6-4 with a 5.23 ERA for Double A San Antonio last season and 1-0 wtih a 2.25 ERA in two appearances at Triple A Portland.
He came up through the Padres organization as a starter.
Kyle Drabek is out of the game here in Tampa and J.A. Happ is in for his first official relief appearance of the spring (he had started clean innings behind Jamie Moyer while getting his work in early on).