JOE BISENIUS hasn't packed his belongings just yet.
With an eye toward the waiver wire and still hopeful of a trade, the Phillies yesterday submitted to Major League Baseball a 24-man roster instead of the 25-man maximum. The Phillies were carrying 11 pitchers instead of their usual 12.
Bisenius, their best relief prospect, remained in Philadelphia last night.
"I'm here right now," said Bisenius, 24, a righthander who allowed two runs in 12 innings over nine spring appearances.
He realizes that he will probably spend most of the year at Triple A Ottawa since he never has pitched above Double A. However, if the Phillies don't add a player before today's game, Bisenius could remain with the major league club until Jon Lieber and/or Freddy Garcia come off the 15-day disabled list.
Each is eligible to return Saturday. Neither is expected to come off before next week. The Phillies remained coy about their intentions.
They probably would have to trade to acquire Blue Jays reliever Francisco Rosario, since he likely would be claimed on waivers after being designated for assignment Saturday. They also could be interested in lefty Ricardo Rincon, whom the Cards released Friday. The Phillies last month nibbled at former White Sox closer Dustin Hermanson before Hermanson signed a minor-league deal with the Reds, who released him yesterday.
Things looked promising - for Bisenius.
"There are some possibilities. It is not necessarily likely that we'd have a trade or would acquire someone, but we'd like to leave our options open at this time," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Amaro also left open the possibility that the Phillies would not add a 25th man today, although that seems unlikely.
If the Phillies add Bisenius, he would have to be added to the 40-man roster, which would not be a problem, since the Phillies are carrying only 35 men on that roster.
Also, if Bisenius is added today and he remains with the major league club until the veterans heal, he could get a good taste of big-league life.
Garcia, nursing a right biceps strain, will throw a third bullpen session today then head back to Clearwater, Fla., for a rehab start Thursday, in which he will throw 45 pitches, and another April 10, in which he will throw 65 pitches.
He has not pitched in a game since he left after the first inning of his March 21 start, which means he will be out of the rotation at least 3 1/2 weeks. It will be the first time in his 8-year career he has missed a start due to arm trouble, but he was philosophical about it.
"It happens. It's part of the game," said Garcia, 30. "I'm glad it happened right now and now halfway through the season. It feels really, really good."
Lieber has missed plenty of games in his 13-year career. His current problem is a right oblique strain. He is scheduled to throw in an extended spring-training game tomorrow. Lieber, 37, was the Phillies' Opening Day starter the past two seasons but he is the sixth starter in a five-man rotation. He will pitch out of the bullpen unless Garcia suffers a setback.
When Lieber and Garcia return, both Bisenius and righthander Zack Segovia, the club's top starting prospect, would probably be sent to the minors for more seasoning. Segovia will start Saturday or Sunday, depending on how No. 1 starter Brett Myers pitches today and how he feels afterward; that is, if the Phils feel he needs an extra day of rest.
It is the only start the Phillies would need from Segovia, who also has not pitched above Double A. He was pretty sure he was going to start in Garcia's place when the Phillies visit the Marlins this weekend but was not positive.
Deadpan pitching coach Rich Dubee played on that anxiety Saturday. He was part of the group that called Segovia into manager Charlie Manuel's office to review Segovia's start with the Triple A team Friday.
Despite his fine, 86-pitch performance that game and the subsequent trip to Philadelphia, Segovia wasn't sure that he'd made he team.
He was less certain after the meeting began with a prolonged silence, which Dubee broke with this question:
"Why'd you walk Hee-Seop Choi twice?"
Segovia stammered a bit as he tried to explain that he was working on his changeup. More silence.
"I thought those walks were going to be the nail in my coffin," Segovia recounted.
Dubee asked the group, "Are we going to trust that brain?"
Finally, Amaro told Segovia he'd made the club.