Phillies release Garcia
Not enough at-bats for veteran in crowded outfield
CLEARWATER , Fla. -- The Phillies released outfielder Karim Garcia on Wednesday, unclogging a crowded bench situation.
Garcia was released despite a .305 average and one homer in 24 Spring Training games (59 at-bats). Manager Charlie Manuel said he wasn't going to be able to give Garcia enough at-bats to be productive, and wanted to give him as much time as possible to hook on with another team.
"The way we set our outfield up, I look at him as a guy who needs 250-300 at-bats," Manuel said. "If he doesn't get playing time, it's going to be hard for him to help us. I thought it was better to tell him today than put it off."
While managing the Indians in 2001 and '02, Manuel came to know Garcia as a productive outfielder when given regular playing time. With Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand and Shane Victorino entrenched as starters and Jayson Werth as the fourth outfielder, Garcia's playing time would've been limited.
"We could've taken him up north [for this weekend's On-Deck Series] and waited," Manuel said. "I didn't think keeping him around was fair to him. I'm known him a long time and have a lot of respect for him."
The 31-year-old would have then been vying to be a fifth outfielder and left-handed hitter off the bench. In that regard, his productive spring was trumped by Greg Dobbs' outstanding spring. Dobbs' ability to play both corner outfield spots (as well as first and third), made Garcia expendable.
Dobbs was hitting .389 with four home runs and 15 RBIs entering Wednesday.
"He had a great Spring Training," Garcia said. "He got off to a good start, hit a lot of home runs, has a lot of power and a great swing. I'm happy for him. There's nothing I can do. This is a competition. I can't hold it against the guy. He's a great dude.
"Unfortunately, I wasn't going to get that many at bats to try to help this ballclub. I understand. I did my best and thanked them for having me over here. But when you're in Spring Training, you're playing for 29 other teams that have the opportunity to see you."
Garcia played in Japan over the past two seasons, batting a combined .281 with 44 homers and 97 RBIs. Over parts of 10 Major League seasons, he's a .241 hitter with 66 homers and 212 RBIs. To that end, Garcia hopes to find another home before Opening Day. If not, he'll consider playing overseas or joining Triple-A Ottawa.
"I want to keep playing," Garcia said. "Realistically, it's March 28 and with most teams, the rosters are set. Hopefully something will open up in a couple days. I'll play baseball somewhere. I don't know where, but I'm going to play."
This could also open up a spot for rookie outfielder Michael Bourn, who's batting .291 with nine RBIs this spring.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.