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Phils part of rumors as Deadline nears

Phils part of rumors as Deadline nears

WASHINGTON -- Shane Victorino bounced around the visitors' clubhouse with his usual effervescence, chided teammate J.C. Romero and looked at the clock.

"Twenty-three hours and 57 minutes to go," Victorino said. "I'm still here, but I'm not counting my eggs before they're hatched."

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At 4:03 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Victorino joked about his status as a daily trade rumor, despite his preference to remain with the Phillies. The biggest speculation had him heading to Colorado in a since-deceased Matt Holliday-Brian Fuentes swap.

"You can't believe anything until you see your name across the ticker," said Jayson Werth, another potential trading chip who has recently popped up as a Tampa Bay target.

Then there's the rumors surrounding Boston slugger Manny Ramirez and his yearly discontent with the Red Sox. Reports that surfaced in recent days have the Phillies, Mets, Diamondbacks and Marlins all pondering the hard-to-figure-out outfielder. All except Florida have distanced themselves from such discussions, with the Phillies laughing it off.

While acknowledging that Ramirez would be a huge addition to any lineup, manager Charlie Manuel -- Ramirez's former hitting coach and big league skipper -- spoke about the slugger in general terms.

"My time with Manny was very special because he was a very special hitter and he was a kid," Manuel said. "He's grown up a lot. He's gotten older. He's making a lot more money. He's been on a couple World Series teams. I feel like I know him and I understand him, to a certain degree."

Manuel also understands that his employers are exploring all avenues to improve the club and seem to be in pursuit of a left-handed reliever. The Phillies have been linked with anyone who's available.

With fewer than 24 hours to go, it appears that moves will be made, and the Phillies, Mets and Marlins are interested in the others' actions. They will be separated by no more than three games in the National League East after Wednesday, meaning that one big addition can make a difference.

"If you get the right player, one player can make a difference in a lineup," Manuel said. "Two can really make a difference."

General manager Pat Gillick wasn't so sure. "I don't agree with that," Gillick said. "In our particular case, we have to play up to our potential. There are times this season that we have, and other times we've played very inconsistently."

Gillick wouldn't discuss Ramirez directly, but he can understand his manager's desire for a top acquisition.

"Everyone wants a No. 1 pitcher; everyone wants a No. 1 hitter," Gillick said. "Sometimes you can't get 'em. Sometimes you can't take a giant step so you take a small step. If a small step is going to improve us a little bit, we're going to make that move even though it might not be a top-shelf guy. Name me a manager that doesn't want a top-shelf guy? I've never met one."

Gillick reiterated that the team is continuing to explore all avenues for a lefty setup guy, and called a trade a "possibility."

"If there are anxious sellers, they're probably going to move in the last two or three hours prior to the deadline," he said. "As you get closer, the asking prices -- depending on the player and his contract -- usually decline if he wants to shed that contract from his books."

Though the Phillies might feel additional pressure because of their NL East rivals, Gillick said he prefers not to look at that as a determining factor.

"You don't like to react to someone else," Gillick said. "You like to do what is proper for your ballclub. If they improve their club, they improve their club."

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

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