Phillies release Bowker

The Phillies have released outfielder John Bowker (right) so he can pursue an opportunity in Japan. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

The Phillies have released outfielder John Bowker to allow him to pursue an opportunity with a team in Japan, the club announced.

In a combined 31 major league games between the Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Bowker, 28, batted .133 with two RBI.

He spent the majority of the 2011 season at Triple A Indianapolis in the Pirates minor league system, where he hit .306 with 15 home runs and 76 RBI in 106 games.

With the transaction, the Phillies now have 39 players on the 40-man roster.

Bowker reportedly has been in talks with the Yomiuri Giants, the same team that signed pitcher Scott Mathieson earlier this offseason.

Bowker was hitless in 13 at-bats with the Phillies, with seven strikeouts.