Notes: Rhodes aims to be eighth wonder

Notes: Rhodes aims to be eighth wonder

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Arthur Rhodes figured he was going to be playing in a new location in 2006. He just wanted time to fill out the change-of-address forms.

Rhodes finally learned where he was heading on Jan. 27, when he was shipped to Philadelphia in a much-rumored deal for Jason Michaels.

"I didn't know where I was going, and it was getting pretty close to Spring Training," Rhodes said. "I hoped they would hurry up and do something and not leave me out to dry, so I could find an apartment or a house. They got it done quickly and I was happy."

The team's new setup man will replace the two-headed tandem of Tim Worrell and Ugueth Urbina, both of whom struggled last season. Worrell pitched poorly and spent two months away recovering from "personal psychological issues." Urbina was acquired in June, but is in a Venezuelan jail on charges of attempted murder.

Enter Rhodes, an experienced reliever who compiled a 2.08 ERA in 43 innings. He called his Philadelphia situation "comfortable" because he knew Pat Gillick from having played for him in Baltimore and Seattle. He's also heard plenty of stories about manager Charlie Manuel from Eric Wedge, his skipper in Cleveland.

Rhodes doesn't come without any strings. He made just four appearances in the final two months because of a family illness. Rhodes didn't discuss the issue then and doesn't want to now. But he said his absence had nothing to do with the reported knee injury. The Indians did him a favor in an attempt to respect his privacy.

"When it happened, I went in and they said, 'OK, we'll say your knee was hurt,' but my knee wasn't hurt," Rhodes said. "We'll leave it at that."

Just like Manuel plans to leave the eighth inning in Rhodes' hands.

"Arthur Rhodes is going to play a big part on our team," said Manuel. "He has a good slider and cutter. A setup guy closes games, too."

By that Manuel means putting out a fire in the late innings and turning the ninth inning over clean to closer Tom Gordon. Rhodes wasn't a fan of closing in Oakland and is happy in his current role.

"I don't want to talk about closing," he said. "It's totally different."

In the National League for the first time in his 15-year career, Rhodes doesn't expect a major learning curve. Though he doesn't throw 96 mph anyway, his ball still moves.

Physically, he's still an imposing 6-foot-2, 212 pounds and scowls with the best of them, not to mention the many tattoos on his chest, back and arms.

"Yeah, you probably think I'm crazy with all these tattoos," Rhodes said.

Crazy good, the Phillies hope.

spring training 2006
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Abreu arrival delayed: Bobby Abreu's highly anticipated arrival at Phillies camp was delayed when traffic problems caused him to miss his flight out of Venezuela.

The team had scheduled a Monday news conference for Abreu to address his feelings on having been the most traded player in the offseason. That has been rescheduled for Tuesday.

Regardless of Abreu being dealt to nearly every Major League team this offseason, Manuel never doubted he'd have his slugger back in 2006.

"I thought I was going to see him on this team," Manuel said. "Ever since the season was over, I thought Bobby would be here."

He will, just not until Tuesday.

The right fielder, who is still owed $30 million over the next two seasons ($13 million in 2006, $15 in 2007 and a $2 million buyout), was the team's most tradable commodity in Gillick's quest to land a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Among the dangled names were Chicago's Mark Prior and Oakland's Barry Zito, but those deals never got close. A more complicated rumor had Abreu headed to Baltimore for shortstop Miguel Tejada, who would then be flipped to Boston for right-fielder Trot Nixon and pitcher Matt Clement.

That also never got close.

Ultimately, Abreu was never asked to waive his no-trade clause. When the the two-time All-Star and 2005 Home Run Derby arrives in camp, he'll likely be asked whether he was angered by the speculation.

"I think Bobby's much more mentally tough than people think he is," Manuel said.

Palmer joins the Phillies: Scott Palmer, former WPVI-TV sportscaster and news anchor, has officially been hired by the Phillies in a newly created job as director of media and public affairs.

Palmer, who joined the organization as a consultant in September, will assist with media relations, advertising, marketing, internet communications and video operations.

He'll also host the W.B. Mason "Behind the Pinstripes" show during the regular season. The 30-minute program will aired before every Sunday afternoon telecast on UPN57, starting April 9.

"It's a wonderful opportunity at my age to be given to go off in a different area and follow one of the dreams I've had since I was a little kid," Palmer said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to bring more fans to the team."

Eighth place?: The constantly tinkering Manuel suggested that Mike Lieberthal could hit higher than eighth if he produces.

Lieberthal has batted eighth most often during the past two seasons. He spent most of the 2003 season hitting fifth, but justified it with a .313 batting average.

Manuel thinks he can be that guy again.

"He was one of the most consistent hitters on our team in 2003," Manuel said. "His approach at the plate is balanced. Can he hit .300? I think he can. I told him today and he'll move in the lineup if he produces. That goes for anybody else."

Philling in: Jimmy Rollins and Abraham Nunez arrived in camp on Sunday. ... David Bell has taken uniform number 25 to honor his father, Buddy and grandfather, Gus. Bell, who tries to wear the digits whenever he can, has deferred to first baseman Jim Thome over the past three years. ... Three Phillies Grapefruit League games will be broadcast on March 13 (Detroit, 1:05 p.m. ET), March 20 (Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. ET) and March 27 (Cleveland, 1:05 p.m. ET). ... Carlos Ruiz and Aquilino Lopez arrived in camp on Sunday. They had been delayed because of visa problems.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.