Notes: Bell a smash in debut

Notes: Bell smashing in debut

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- David Bell's uniform was already dirty by the end of the first inning, thanks to a collision at third base.

Such was life for the veteran, who made his long-awaited Grapefruit League debut in Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Toronto.

Bell went 0-for-3 batting second for the Phillies, and he made some putouts in the field. The contact happened in the first, when Vernon Wells attempted to steal third because Bell was playing off the bag.

"He thought he could beat me to the base, but I'm not that slow," Bell said. "You've got to get ready for those kinds of plays. It was a good test."

That incident aside, Bell remained positive about the rest of his afternoon and optimistic about his chances of making the Opening Day roster. The plan is for him to play seven innings Thursday, go to the Minor League complex on Friday and then play in both of the games in Philadelphia over the weekend.

"Everything's good," said Bell, who's also nursing a sore quadriceps muscle.

Manager Charlie Manuel met with Bell in the morning and told him he'll go north with the team, as long as he shows he's healthy.

"We'll have to visually observe what he looks like," said general manager Pat Gillick. "We'll get a pretty good idea over the next couple of days where he is."

A healthy Bell means Abraham Nunez and Alex Gonzalez return to bench jobs and Chris Coste, Tomas Perez and Chris Roberson are left competing for the last remaining offensive spot.

Good luck handicapping that one.

Bell was happy to begin his spring facing one of the game's top pitchers in Roy Halladay.

"Roy Halladay is one of the best pitchers in the game," Bell said. "That's what you're getting ready for. This is probably hard to believe, but I'm not concerned physically at all to play. I feel I'm through that, excited about starting the season on time and being part of a team."

Lieber rocked again: Amid the whirlwind of inquiries regarding the back of the rotation, the top of the rotation wilted.

Opening Day starter Jon Lieber coughed up six runs on 10 hits in four innings to a lineup of Blue Jays regulars.

"Bottom line, my location [was off today]," Lieber said. "I was more disappointed in that than anything. My slider was inconsistent. The sad part about it was I felt great. My legs feel good. My arm felt great, and I just wasn't able to make an adjustment.

"It's a little disappointing, but you try to make an adjustment," he said. "If my arm was killing me, I might be a little concerned. I'll erase it, learn from it and try and work on a couple of things in the next bullpen."

Lieber took the blame for the poor outing, even though his defense didn't come up with some plays behind him, but that's always been one of his characteristics.

"We were flat and didn't play good," said Manuel. "It's that time of spring."

spring training 2006
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Rodriguez gone: The addition-by-substraction trade that sent Vicente Padilla to Texas will have to be just that, as the Phillies released pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, 27, didn't impress his new team in six Grapfruit League outings this spring, compiling a 4.15 ERA and allowing 23 baserunners in 13 innings, while striking out eight.

Though he hadn't been used much in relief over his professional career, Rodriguez entered camp competing for a spot in the bullpen. He struggled with his control but helped himself with three scoreless innings on March 24. In that outing, he allowed no hits and walked one.

It wasn't enough.

"It didn't come out too well," said general manager Gillick, referring to the December trade. "How would you view it? As it turned out, it wasn't a good exchange."

The Phillies dealt Padilla in part because they were frustrated by his inconsistency. Since winning 14 games in 2002 and 2003, the right-hander won 16 over the next two seasons combined, and he sometimes clashed with teammates and coaches.

Philadelphia also didn't want to pay a hefty salary for the third-year arbitration player. The right-hander submitted a request of $4.8 million, before settling at $4.41 million.

"I will say this," Gillick said. "Sometimes there's an addition by substraction, but I don't want to knock someone else."

Book 'em: This wasn't Chris Booker's ideal Spring Training, but at least he pitched.

The Phillies placed Booker on the disabled list Wednesday with inflammation in his left knee, effectively buying time to evaluate the Rule 5 Draft selection they traded for in the offseason.

Slow to recover from offseason surgery on his left knee, the right-hander appeared in just two Grapefruit League games and pitched in two other Minor League games. The Phillies have to keep Booker on the 25-man roster all season or offer him back to the Nationals.

Now he can recover without pushing so hard.

"I'd rather have the extra time," he said. "I've only thrown in four games. I'd like to get innings in. My velocity isn't where it should be, so I'd like to get a little more prepared. Now, I can concentrate on getting my work in and helping this team win [down the road]."

Quotable: "There were a lot of hugs, a lot of tears. I gave him a big 'ol hug and said, 'Thank you.' I was really worried about that." -- Lieber, joking about finally being named the team's Opening Day starter, for the seventh time in my career.

He then got serious.

"It's a big deal. It's always nice when they say that. I never take anything for granted. You never know what can happen. It's a great honor, like all the other ones."

Philling in: Kimmie Meissner, the 2006 world figure skating champion, will throw out the first pitch on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park on Monday. ... Infielder Danny Sandoval was reassigned to Minor League camp on Thursday. ... The bullpen has a 14-inning scoreless streak.

Coming up: Brett Myers said last week he was tired of Florida, meaning he's ready to start the regular season. He'll first make his final Grapefruit League appearance on Thursday, against the Blue Jays. The right-hander, who has a 4.08 ERA this spring over four outings, is the team's No. 2 starter.

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