The Phillies have released outfielder John Bowker to allow him to pursue an opportunity with a professional team in Japan, the team announced Tuesday.
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.
For his major league career, Bowker has hit .232 with 17 home runs and 73 RBI in 240 games between the San Francisco Giants (2008-10), Pirates (2010-11) and Phillies (2011). Bowker was originally a third round selection of the Giants in the June 2004 draft.
With the transaction, the Phillies now have 39 players on the 40-man roster.