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Phillies one of three teams interested in Sheff; Drabek out after 2 1/3

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).

Drabek faced Derek Jeter in his first at-bat (Jeter will start the season leading off for the Yankees) and got him to ground out weakly to the mound. But he was hurt by a fielding error on Shane Victorino that led to an unearned run. Drabek then allowed four earned runs in the third, two of them on a home run by Mark Teixeira. Nevertheless, it was an important outing for the former first rounder, who battled back from Tommy John surgery last year and pitched well at the end of the minor league season, as well as in winter ball in Hawaii.