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Phillies Offer Hershiser Deal

With the Indians in town, what better time for the Phillies to talk about Orel Hershiser?

The Phillies made a second contract offer to the 40-year-old right-hander on Sunday, hoping to bolster a thin pitching staff that could use his experience and innings.

"If it's enough, then great," general manager Ed Wade said before the Phillies beat the Indians 2-1. "If not, then we move on."

In February, the Phillies offered Hershiser a one-year deal with incentives that could have raised the value to $2 million. He opted instead to sign a minor league contract for less money with the Indians, the team he played for from 1995-97.

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But Hershiser, who pitched for the Giants last season, has little chance of making Cleveland's starting rotation. Hershiser and the Indians set a loose deadline of Sunday for the club to let him know how he fits into their plans. If he isn't going to make the club, Hershiser is free to sign with another team.

"We'd love to have Orel," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "But there's no job for him."

In addition to getting the 10 victories he needs for 200 in his career, Hershiser wants one last chance to pitch in the World Series. The Phillies, still building with youth and a payroll under $30 million, don't appear to be a good bet to give him that this season.

Still, if the Phillies ask ace Curt Schilling to sell Hershiser on the Phillies, he'll gladly do it.

"His career is what it is," Schilling said Sunday after pitching five scoreless innings in a 2-1 victory over Cleveland. "He's 200 innings, and if he's healthy and throwing the ball the way he is, he could make us a better club."

Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. talked with Hershiser's agent, Robert Fraley, on Saturday and made the formal offer Sunday. Wade talked with Hart on Sunday morning to make sure it was within baseball rules to offer Hershiser a contract.

Fraley did not return a telephone call, Wade wouldn't say whether the second offer involved more money than the first $850,000 guaranteed and $2 million if he pitches 200 innings.

"It is, I think, a very fair offer which includes performance bonuses," Wade said. "It is the same type of offer."

It is believed that the Marlins, Devil Rays and another club offered more money that the Phillies last month.

Hershiser has pitched well this spring, posting a 2.70 ERA in three appearances. His value may have gone up since the Phillies made their first offer, perhaps pushing them out of the running.

"It's never been about the money with Hershiser," Wade said. "It's baseball knowledge that he signed a contract with Cleveland at an appreciably lesser amount than we offered."

Hershiser is the odd man out in the Indians' starting rotation, which includes Charles Nagy, Bartolo Colon, Jaret Wright, Dave Burba and Dwight Gooden. In Philadephia, he could be as high as the second starter on a team with paper-thin pitching depth behind Schilling.

"We do feel like under the right circumstances he'd fit in real well here," Phillies manager Terry Francona said. "If he doesn't come, we'll move on."

Chad Ogea, who couldn't keep a spot in the Indians' rotation for four years, is projected as the Phillies' second starter. Paul Spoljaric, who has been hit hard this spring, also is counted on to win a starting spot.

Still, Wade said if the Phillies can't sign Hershiser, "We can still put a competent rotation together."

Phillies pro scout Del Unser has seen all three of Hershiser's outings this spring. On Monday, he'll go to Haines City to watch him pitch a minor league game.

Hershiser made $3.7 million, including bonuses, last year with the Giants. He was 11-10 with a 4.41 ERA, pitching 202 innings.

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