MIAMI - Back in 1997, when Pat Gillick was general manager of the Baltimore Orioles, he found himself with time to kill before a night game in Seattle. So, along with assistant Kevin Malone, he hopped a dawn flight to Boise, Idaho, to work out a junior-college pitcher.
The kid, Rick Bauer, showed up at the tiny airport to pick up the two big-league executives. He was accompanied by his dad. And his dog. In a pickup truck.
So the two big-league executives found themselves bumping along in the bed of the truck on the way to the field.
That didn't prevent Gillick from drafting Bauer in the fifth round out of Treasure Valley (Idaho) Community College. And it didn't prevent the Phillies from signing Bauer, now 30, to a minor league contract yesterday, pending a physical.
That came a day after the Phils acquired righthander Francisco Rosario from the Toronto Blue Jays for a reported $100,000.
There is no apparent hurry to add either pitcher to the roster, however.
Rosario didn't join the team last night at Dolphin Stadium. Instead, he had a physical in Clearwater and is expected to throw on the side at least twice before being activated. Manager Charlie Manuel hinted that he might not be activated until Monday when the Phillies play the Mets at Shea Stadium.
That creates at least the possibility that righthander Zack Segovia could be optioned after making his major league debut tomorrow against the Marlins. With an open date on Tuesday, and with disabled righthander Freddy Garcia (biceps tendinitis) scheduled to make his second rehab start for Class A Clearwater that day, it's possible that Garcia could be ready the next time a fifth starter is needed.
Garcia was at Dolphin Stadium last night after pitching for Class A Clearwater against Dunedin in a Florida State League game Thursday night.
"He said he was happy with the way he threw. He said his arm felt good," Manuel said.
Pitching coach Ruch Dubee, who said Garcia's fastball reached 91 mph, deflected questions on plans for the team's most significant offseason acquisition after Tuesday. "We'll see how it goes," he said.
Bauer, meanwhile, is ticketed for Triple A Ottawa.
"He's just another inventory guy, really," the extremely visible Gillick said. "And we want to have as much as possible in case somebody goes down."
Bauer had a 3.55 earned run average in 58 games for Texas last season, but was released on March 28. "He threw pretty good last year, but he didn't throw very well in spring training," Gillick said.
That's an understatement. In spring training, Bauer gave up 25 baserunners (19 hits, four walks, two hit batters) in 6 1/3 innings and had a 15.63 earned run average.
And Gillick said he might not be done hoping to get lucky with castoff pitchers. He conceded that the Phils might be interested in veteran Dustin Hermanson, who was released by the Reds.
"We worked him out before he signed with Cincinnati," the general manager said. "And we might take another look at him, too."
Disabled righthander Jon Lieber (strained ribcage muscle) started for Class A Clearwater at Dunedin last night in a Florida State League game. Working under a pitch limit, he went 3 2/3 innings and allowed two runs, one earned. He gave up four hits, struck out four and didn't walk a batter.
It's not out of the question that he could rejoin the team as early as Monday in New York. But there is apparently no thought being given to having him start.
"I would say right now he wouldn't be a candidate," Charlie Manuel said. "Once we activate him, he'll probably go to the bullpen."