At the winter meetings last week, multiple sources confirmed that the Phillies had reached agreement with lefthander Dennys Reyes on a 1-year contract plus an option that guaranteed the veteran reliever $1.25 million.

The deal, as almost all contracts are these days, was contingent on Reyes passing a physical.

He was reported to be in Philadelphia on Thursday for the examination.

But assistant GM Scott Proefrock confirmed yesterday that he will not be pitching for the Phillies next season after all.

It doesn't take a lot of thinking to conclude that the Phillies saw something during the physical that concerned them, but teams never admit that on the grounds that they don't want to prejudice another club against being interested in the player. And medicine isn't an exact science, so something that may set off alarms for one team may not concern another club at all.

"We just couldn't finish off the details. That's all I can say," Proefrock said.

Reyes, who pitched for the Cardinals last season, appeared just once between Aug. 3 and Sept. 4 with a sprained elbow.

This is not unprecedented. Before the 2006 season, the Phillies tried to sign Sandy Alomar Jr. as a backup catcher, but he didn't pass the physical. He signed with the Dodgers instead and went on to play 2 more years in the big leagues.

Now the Phillies must go back to the drawing board. At the moment, their lefthanded bullpen options are all untested youngsters: Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Mike Zagurski.

Since zeroing in on Reyes, some lefty relievers believed to be on the Phillies list (George Sherrill, Randy Choate) have signed elsewhere. Others (Scott Downs, Pedro Feliciano, Arthur Rhodes) are believed to be looking for more money at the moment than the Phils want to spend. Names like Brian Fuentes and Hideki Okajima remain available. *

- Paul Hagen