One fewer pitcher fighting for bullpen job

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Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Juan Cruz delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning of their Major League Baseball game Saturday, July 29, 2006, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Juan Cruz was the only Phillies pitcher or catcher to not report on time. As it turns out, he will never report to camp.

The Phillies and Cruz "mutually parted ways," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Wednesday. Cruz had agreed to a minor-league contract but never officially signed it. Thus, the Phillies could not release him, per se.

Whatever the case, Cruz is again a free agent.

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Amaro said the dynamics changed after the signing of Chad Durbin. He fills a role Cruz theoretically would have fit had he made the team. Cruz, 34, was solid in 43 games for Pittsburgh a season ago. He had a 2.78 ERA. The Pirates released him, though, when he refused a minor-league assignment last August.

The Phillies followed a similar route.

"We decided we would grant that for him out of respect for a guy that has been in the big leagues for nine years," Amaro said. "We just didn’t think it was right for either party."

His departure leaves 60 players in camp. And there is one fewer reliever competing for what expects to be a fascinating battle to land three bullpen jobs.


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