Sherrill may be lefty reliever Phillies are looking for

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Could George Sherrill be the lefty reliever the Phillies are looking for? (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

DALLAS -- Even though Ruben Amaro Jr. is the general manager and David Montgomery is the team president, the voice of former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick still carries a lot of weight in the executive offices at Citizens Bank Park.

Gillick, a senior advisor to Amaro and Montgomery, was asked Monday at the winter meetings what he thought the team needed most at this stage of the offseason and he did not hesitate with an answer.

"It would be good to have a veteran lefthander to go with (Antonio) Bastardo," he said. "I think that would fit in well."

It appears as if the veteran reliever the Phillies have targeted for that role is free-agent lefty George Sherrill, who also drew interest from the team as a free agent last season before eventually signing with the Atlanta Braves.

Sherrill, 34, rebounded from a poor 2010 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers and played his lefty role well for the Braves, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 51 games. Left-handed hitters batted .256 against him and had a .275 on-base percentage. He struck out 32 of the 81 left-handed hitters he faced.

Left-handed hitters are batting .180 against Sherrill for his career and they strike out nearly a third of the time.

A second lefty who specializes in getting out lefthanders is something the Phillies had with J.C. Romero in 2008, but he struggled to throw strikes the last two years and was not nearly as effective.

"You have to balance your club out," Gillick said. "Be it your position players, be it your starting rotation or the bullpen, you have to have balance down there. I think that's important to have the right mix down (in the bullpen) so if the situation calls for it, you have that person available. We had really one lefthander at the backend and you really need two."

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