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Phillies singing a sad song in Nashville

Their search for a pitcher is stalled. "It's been a frustrating few days," Mike Arbuckle said.

NASHVILLE - The frustration is evident at the Opryland Hotel.

The Phillies desperately need more pitching, but they still can't find any at what they consider a reasonable price.

"Same old, same old," manager Charlie Manuel said yesterday. "Just talk."

"It's been a frustrating few days," said Mike Arbuckle, the team's assistant general manager. "We've done a lot of talking with a lot of people and right now we're just kind of treading water."

The Phillies made another offer yesterday to Japanese righthander Hiroki Kuroda, which was believed to be for three years and about $30 million. But the Phils and Kuroda were so far apart that general manager Pat Gillick said they were out of the Kuroda sweepstakes.

"I don't think we can come close enough to satisfying what they feel is appropriate," Gillick said.

Kuroda is believed to have a four-year, $44 million offer on the table from the Seattle Mariners.

But the Phillies still could leave Nashville with something. It could come today in the Rule 5 draft, although Gillick called the possibility of selecting a starting pitcher "remote."

The Phillies have the 24th pick. They like a few pitchers who are available - players they think could compete for a spot in their rotation in spring training - but they also expect those pitchers to be gone by the time they pick.

Of course, the Phillies could make a trade to move up in the draft. They will try to do that.

The Phils need a starting pitcher because they probably have only three realistic internal candidates to pitch at the big-league level if one of their five starters - Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick and Adam Eaton - gets hurt or is ineffective. J.D. Durbin, Fabio Castro and J.A. Happ are the fall-back hurlers.

"I'm concerned about that," Manuel said.

So with the pitching search going very slowly, the Phillies continued to speak with Rocky Hall, the agent for Tadahito Iguchi.

They met once in the morning, with the Phillies making a one-year offer that included an option for a second year. They spoke again later in the afternoon, and the Phillies upped their offer.

The sides appear to be closer, but the Phillies aren't optimistic that they can make a deal because Iguchi would need a baseball rule to be waived to allow him to re-sign with the Phillies.

Because the Phillies released Iguchi after the season, as required in his contract, they cannot sign him to a major-league contract until May 15. An option would be signing Iguchi to a minor-league contract, have him play at triple-A Lehigh Valley for six weeks, and then signing him to a big-league contract in May. But Hall said Iguchi would not do that.

Hall said he had gone to the commissioner's office to seek a waiver and he hopes to have an answer within two days to a week. He said the commissioner's office told him not to approach the Phillies unless he felt they were 85 percent certain they would agree to a deal.

So are they 85 percent close to a deal?

"I told him I can't give them that until I know for sure," Hall said.

However, a baseball official said last night that the commissioner's office was not aware of Hall's request.

The Phillies also kicked around third baseman Brandon Inge's name yesterday. Inge is available after the Detroit Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera from the Florida Marlins. But Inge is owed $19.1 million over the next three seasons, which could dampen any exploration of a deal.

Rowand a long shot. The Phils continue to talk with Aaron Rowand's agent, Craig Landis, but Gillick acknowledged that a deal is unlikely. "Yeah, I'd say it's a long shot," he said.

No Cameron. Mike Cameron's agent spoke with the Phillies about a possible match, but Cameron is seeking a multiyear contract and the Phillies aren't interested. Manuel said Shane Victorino would be the everyday centerfielder, with Jayson Werth getting playing time in right field, if Rowand does not return.

Mateo released. The Phillies released righthanded reliever Julio Mateo. The Phils acquired Mateo from the Seattle Mariners in July but never brought him to the big leagues.

"We didn't feel like we wanted to go to arbitration with him," Gillick said.

Mateo is involved in a domestic abuse case in New York. Asked whether that played a role in releasing Mateo, Gillick declined to comment.