SARASOTA, Fla. - On a day when the Phillies' lack of healthy and proven lefthanded relievers moved closer to center stage, Scott Eyre rejoined the team.

Well, sort of. Eyre, who had a 1.50 earned run average in 42 games as a lefty bullpen specialist for the Phillies last year, was at Ed Smith Stadium to participate in a postgame radio show hosted by team publicity director John Brazer.

Bothered by bone chips in his elbow late in the season, the 37-year-old didn't sign a contract last winter. But he hasn't announced his retirement, either.

Hmmmm . . .

"I'm not against [a comeback] completely," Eyre said with a laugh during a break in the show. "Somebody would have to call me. But my elbow feels good. I throw batting practice to my two boys every couple days. I'll stay in shape just in case."

Eyre estimated it would take him about 3 weeks to get game-ready, pointing out that he generally comes in to face just one or two hitters. A comeback would interfere with a scheduled family vacation, however.

"It would have to be a [good] situation," he explained. "My wife and I are planning an RV trip this summer. We're planning on leaving as soon as Little League's over and school's out. We're going to go on an 8-week trip, through Texas if my brother [Willie] is in the big leagues; we're going to see Paul Bako at his house. We're going all the way to Canada. We're going to see all the national treasures and monuments."

As he walked through the stands yesterday, Phillies fans recognized him and many encouraged him to pitch again. That was nice, but if it doesn't happen, Eyre said he'll be fine.

"On a personal note, I hope J.C. [Romero] has a great year," he said. "And I'll be watching every game. I've got that MLB package."

- Paul Hagen