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Amaro's focus is third base, pitching

Amaro's focus is third base, pitching

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has told right-hander Pedro Martinez that the Phillies have not closed the door on his return in 2010, but are focusing their efforts elsewhere.

"More specifically, our need at third base and in our bullpen," Amaro said Monday night in a telephone interview. "Those two areas are our priorities."

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And Toronto right-hander Roy Halladay?

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday night that the Phillies remain in the running for Halladay. The Phillies aggressively pursued Halladay before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but balked at Toronto's asking price. They instead sent four prospects to Cleveland for left-hander Cliff Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco.

Halladay might command less than he would have commanded in July because teams only will have him for one postseason run instead of two, as Halladay's current deal runs through the 2010 season, but if the Phillies remain unwilling to part with right-handed pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, it might be tough to strike a deal.

In the meantime, the Phillies rotation is Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Jamie Moyer with Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Carpenter and others in the running.

But while the Phillies obviously could use Halladay, they absolutely need to find a third baseman after they declined Pedro Feliz's $5.5 million club option. Amaro said they have talked to teams about potential trades, but he said it is more likely they find a third baseman through free agency.

There are plenty out there. Chone Figgins tops a list that includes Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa and Placido Polanco.

"We're also not closing the door on Pedro [Feliz]," Amaro said. "But it seems like there is more third-base inventory than the actual needs there are in the industry. This may be a misread, but we made the final decision after having some discussion. There were some differences of opinion, but we finally decided that, in the end, if we were going to give ourselves a chance to add or change things up a little bit, this would be the most likely place to do that. That was one of the big reasons why. This gives us more options.

"I don't mind change. We still have the nucleus of our club together. If I were a betting man I would say we would probably have a very similar starting lineup as last year, but this could inject a different look or different feel if we go with somebody other than Pedro. It gives us the opportunity to do something a little different with our lineup, perhaps."

Amaro said after third base and bullpen, they will focus on finding a backup catcher for Carlos Ruiz and upgrading the bench. He said they have not ruled out bringing back Paul Bako. Matt Stairs seems unlikely to return, unless he signs a Minor League deal.

Amaro said left fielder Raul Ibanez and left-hander Scott Eyre, who is a free agent, had successful surgeries on Monday. Ibanez had a sports hernia repaired on the left side of his body. He also had symptoms on the right side of his body repaired. Eyre had loose bodies removed from his left elbow.

Both are expected to be ready by Spring Training.

"As far as bringing Scotty back, we'll touch base with his agent and see where we stand on that," Amaro said.

Phillies closer Brad Lidge will have surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow on Wednesday. He also will have the flexor/pronator tendon evaluated. If the tendon is fine, Lidge should be ready to pitch by Spring Training. If the tendon needs to be repaired, he should be ready a short time after camp opens in Clearwater, Fla.

Todd Zolecki 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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