Phillies sign Bobby Abreu to Minor League deal

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bobby Abreu is back because he said he still loves to play baseball, and because he thinks he can help the Phillies win.

The Phillies signed him in the offseason to a Minor League contract, which is worth $800,000 if he makes the big league roster. He is a strong candidate to make the roster as the Phillies need a left-handed bat off the bench.

Abreu, who turns 40 next month, played for the Phillies from 1998-2006.

"I know I'm not the same when I was 25, 26, but I'm still fine," he said. "I can still hit. I can still steal bases, run the bases pretty good."

Abreu did not play in the big leagues last season, so this is a comeback attempt. Asked why he would want to come back as a reserve outfielder after spending most of his career as an everyday player, he said, "I want to keep playing the game. I want to be a part of a team. Also, to come off the bench -- we've talked about that. It's not a problem for me. I just love to play the game. I know i can still play. To have this opportunity right now, it's fun."

Pettibone experiences right shoulder tightness

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ryne Sandberg said Sunday there is an open competition for the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation.

But the Phillies suddenly have reason to be concerned with one of those competitors.

Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone did not throw his scheduled bullpen session Sunday because of what he called tightness in his right shoulder, the same issue that had him on the disabled list to finish last season.

"Well, it's kind of the early stages of what happened last year, so it's good that we stopped it early and jump on some anti-inflammatories and hopefully get it before it gets too serious," Pettibone said.

Pettibone went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts last season. He said he started to feel discomfort in the shoulder during his last couple bullpen sessions.

"When I started to ramp up and kind of crank on it, I started to feel it a little," he said. "I think we're going to kind of play it by ear for now."

No MRI is currently scheduled.

It could become an issue because Cole Hamels said he expects to miss the beginning of the season following discomfort in his left shoulder. Hamels' absence would leave Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez in the top four spots of the rotation. The fifth spot would be a competition among Pettibone, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Ethan Martin, Sean O'Sullivan and Jeff Manship.