Phils bolster bench, acquire Conine

Phils acquire Conine

NEW YORK -- Jeff Conine's final at-bat with the Orioles is precisely what the Phillies hope he'll provide for them.

The veteran outfielder smacked a game-tying double in the bottom of the eighth inning in Baltimore's 5-4 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday at Camden Yards, and was on deck when the winning run scored. Roughly 40 minutes later, Conine said goodbye to his teammates and hurriedly packed for a drive up I-95.

In their continuing transformation from sellers to buyers, the Phils acquired Conine and cash for a player to be named later, enhancing their bench and adding balance to make their lineup more right-handed. The Phillies won't make a roster move until Conine reports, which is expected to be Monday.

"He's been through it," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. "He's been a clutch player. We didn't acquire him because of how he performed against us, but for how he's done throughout his career."

In his 16th season, the 40-year-old Conine hit .265 with nine homes and 49 RBIs in 114 games for Baltimore. Since June 24, he is hitting .301 in 51 games. He's started 53 times in left field and 47 times at first base. He also appeared in one game at third base and one game in right field.

He was a member of Florida's World Series championship teams in 1997 and 2003 and was nicknamed "Mr. Marlin."

"Once you've been there, you want to go back every year, because it's the most satisfying, enjoyable [and] exciting time of an athlete's life," Conine said. "I don't care how many rings you have, how many pennants you've won, or how many times you've made it to the postseason. "Every single year, you want to do it again.

"That's what it's all about. I hope I can lend a little experience, having been through it a couple times, to some of the young guys who haven't."

Conine comes to Philadelphia with a base salary of $1.7 million, plus another $600,000 in incentives, including $250,000 for having been traded. He can still earn another $350,000. The Orioles have agreed to send "more than" $500,000 to Philadelphia, according to Phils general manager Pat Gillick.

Conine has a vesting option for $2 million, which becomes guaranteed at 450 plate appearances. He's at 432 after receiving four plate appearances on Sunday. Conine can decline that option, though he said earlier this season that he's not interested in doing that.

The trade provides a veteran presence to a bench that includes several rookies and players with limited Major League experience, such as Joe Thurston. Conine can play both corner outfield spots and first base, allowing manager Charlie Manuel to give Ryan Howard an occasional rest against tough southpaws. Howard hasn't missed an inning since the All-Star break.

"I like him," Manuel said. "He's been a very valuable player. He plays big in the moment and has been a real good hitter when it counts. At home, I think I can play him in right field, or if I have to give Howard a rest, he can play first. We got better."

Manuel said Conine won't unseat Pat Burrell as the left fielder, but he liked that the veteran gives him another option.

Mostly, Conine's arrival provides more balance to a lineup in need of righty production. That need was heightened when center fielder Aaron Rowand was lost for the season with a broken ankle.

"We were looking for right-handed hitting," Gillick said. "When Rowand went down, it emphasized that we needed right-handed hitting. Getting [Jose] Hernandez and Conine, we think we got what we needed. He's a guy who has been through the wars before. At this point in the year, that's valuable."

Conine is the third player acquired this month, after Hernandez on Tuesday and left-hander Jamie Moyer on July 19.

"We're in the hunt," Gillick said. "We want to do everything we can to win it. It's an indication to the players and the fans that we want to get this thing."

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