AFTER A litany of elbow injuries that included two serious surgeries, the mere fact that righthander Scott Mathieson was in a position to sign with a team in Japan counts as an accomplishment in itself. Yesterday, the Phillies granted his release so he can sign with the Yomiuri Giants.

Mathieson, 27, had been with the organization since 2002, when it selected him in the 17th round of the amateur draft. He started eight games for the Phillies in 2006 before embarking on a frustrating series of surgeries that left his career in jeopardy. He ultimately returned to the big leagues for six relief appearances in 2010 and '11. Last season, he struck out five and walked three while allowing nine hits in five scoreless innings over four games. But Mathieson had clearly slipped on the organization's depth chart. His departure opens up a spot on the 40-man roster, which now sits at 39.

Also yesterday, the Phillies signed two players to minor league deals: lefthander Pat Misch and outfielder Scott Podsednik.

Misch, who appeared in 18 games for the Mets over the last two seasons, went 8-9 with a 4.00 ERA while averaging 6.0 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings for New York's Triple A affiliate last season. The 30-year-old will compete for a spot on the organizational depth chart.

Podsednik, a 2005 All-Star who hit .297 with a .724 OPS for the Royals and Dodgers in 2010, missed most of last season because of a foot injury. He played in 14 games at Triple A Lehigh Valley. The 35-year-old lefthanded hitter could get an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Phillies' bench. Both he and Misch will participate in major league spring training.

Deadline day

Today is the deadline for free agents to accept arbitration offers extended by their former teams. The Phillies have offered reliever Ryan Madson and shortstop Jimmy Rollins arbitration. Both are expected to decline, meaning the Phillies will receive two draft picks if they sign elsewhere. Madson is almost certain to sign with another team now that the Phillies have committed to Jonathan Papelbon as their closer. Rollins and the team both maintain hope of reaching an agreement, but there have been no signs of progress.

The Phillies also offered arbitration to leftfielder Raul Ibanez, but there is a good chance that Ibanez has informed the team that he will decline. The Phillies would receive one draft pick in the supplemental round if Ibanez signs elsewhere.

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