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Pena's all right when he's not lefty

The days of switch-hitting for second baseman Geronimo Pena may be over, at least during spring training.

Manager Joe Torre suggested Pena bat only from the right side, where his .313 average from last year overpowered his .211 average from the left side.

"It's something we're going to try this spring and wait and see," Torre said.

"We're just trying to get him more consistent one way. Left-handed, he's had problems with off-speed pitches. He's got so much better control from being right-handed."

Entering his fourth season in the majors, Pena carries a .320 career average with 10 homers right-handed versus .233 with seven homers left-handed.

"Ideally, I would love to have him as a switch-hitter," Torre said.

"I did something last year I didn't want to do. I pinch-hit for him with a right-handed hitter against a right-hander, because I didn't want him hitting left-handed in a situation where I needed something other than a swing and a miss."

Third baseman Todd Zeile left camp with a stomach virus. Outfielder Ray Lankford did not participate in the intrasquad game because of problems with his wisdom teeth. Five players, all pitchers, remain unsigned. Allen Watson, Rheal Cormier, Rene Arocha, Mike Perez and Donovan Osborne have until today to sign or be automatically renewed.


A few good rookies

impress Fregosi

CLEARWATER _ Rookies Phil Geisler and Ricky Bottalico, who spent time with the Clearwater Phillies last season, continue to look impressive.

"(Geisler) looks like he's as close to a "can't miss' kind of guy as you get," manager Jim Fregosi said. "He's going to be a very good player."

Geisler, who hit .305 at Clearwater with 15 home runs and was named the best player in the Phillies' minor-league system, can play all three outfield positions as well as first base.

Bottalico won the Paul Owens award as the Phillies' best minor-league pitcher, combining for 24 saves in stops at Clearwater and Double-A Reading.

"Confidence-wise, he's not overmatched being in his first big-league camp," Fregosi said. "He's got a good face, he'll look you right in the eyes. To me, that kind of thing is important."

Fregosi had high praise for a couple of other rookies, too:

First baseman Gene Shall: "The ball really jumps off his bat. Defensively, he's played the outfield and first base. He's strictly a first baseman."

Pitcher Ryan Karp: "Has a very good curve, changes speeds well and threw the hardest I've seen on Monday."

The Phillies worked out in the batting cages Tuesday because of wet fields. The first of two intrasquad games is scheduled today at 10 a.m. at the Carpenter Complex. Workouts move to Jack Russell Stadium on Thursday, with an intrasquad game scheduled for 9:30 a.m.

Curt Schilling, the Most Valuable Player in the National League playoffs, will start against Pittsburgh Friday in the Phillies' first exhibition game, Fregosi said. Following Schilling, 16-7 last season, will be Bobby Munoz, Bottalico, David West and Larry Andersen.


Butler works up

major-league hunger

DUNEDIN _ Rob Butler got a taste of Toronto last year, but he wants a full-course meal this season.

"I was happy when they called me up in June last season, but then I tore a ligament in my thumb and sat out almost two months," Butler recalled.

"I'm working hard to make it right from the start this year."

Butler could be platooned in leftfield with Robert Perez, his Syracuse teammate. Butler hit .284 at Syracuse in 55 games, .271 at Toronto in 17 games. Perez played in 138 games at Syracuse, hitting .294.

Joe Carter reported to camp Tuesday and will work out with the club today. Devon White and his wife, Colleen, had their third child, a girl, Monday in Arizona. White is due in Friday. Juan Guzman will start the exhibition opener Friday against the Orioles at Grant Field. Dave Stewart will start against the Phillies Saturday at Grant.


Holman looks sharp

in comeback try

PLANT CITY _ Brian Holman, a right-hander trying to make a comeback after missing two seasons because of shoulder surgery, threw 24 pitches in two innings in an intrasquad game, allowing only a single to Joe Oliver.

Left-hander John Smiley, working two innings for the opposition, threw 28 pitches, allowing a single to Thomas Howard and an unearned run.

Right-hander Erik Hanson and left-hander Tom Browning will start today's intrasquad game.

Coach Ray Knight found a small snake in a dugout, picked it up and deposited it at the pitcher's mound just before Tuesday's intrasquad game. Holman, who was next out to the mound, was unshaken when he found the non-poisonous reptile. He simply returned it to Knight. The Reds open their exhibition schedule Friday against the Houston Astros at Kissimmee. Tim Pugh is scheduled to start against Houston's Pete Harnisch.

_ AP