DANA POINT, Calif. - The Phillies met yesterday with the agent for Ryan Howard, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. termed the brief discussions as preliminary.

Amaro and Casey Close, who also represents pitcher Joe Blanton, talked for about five minutes at the general managers' meetings. Both Howard and Blanton are eligible for arbitration.

"It was just to touch base," Amaro said. "There won't be any negotiations going on here. But we have several of [the agent's] arbitration-eligible guys."

Meanwhile, Phillies officials said there had been no negotiations with any of their free agents, including outfielder Pat Burrell. Amaro said he hoped to start talks soon regarding pitchers Jamie Moyer and Scott Eyre.

"We're going to start to have more sensitive discussions with both Scott and Jamie in the next few days," he said. "But once we have negotiations, I'll be frank with you, we're going to be pretty quiet."

As for other possible personnel moves at these meetings, which end today, Amaro said he and others in the organization had been in contact with "27 or 28 teams."

According to the GM, those discussions have been aimed at assessing needs and available players.

"We got in some interesting discussions with a couple of clubs that would certainly spark some interest," he said, without identifying those teams. "But none of [the possible moves] are imminent."

Told that pitcher Curt Schilling had again raised the possibility of returning to Philadelphia, Amaro, who moved into the job Monday, said only that he had not even considered such a possibility yet.

As for his quest to find one or two assistant general managers and a third-base coach to replace the fired Steve Smith, the Phillies' new general manager said he hoped to have some announcements "in a day or so."

The general managers will have one final meeting this morning before departing. Their group sessions yesterday were described by one GM as "tedious and not significant."

Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068