Position battles hold some answers for Phillies
Outfield, 'pen questions will start getting ironed out at first official workout Wednesday
PHILADELPHIA -- Beginning Wednesday, the Phillies hope to start answering some of the lingering questions from the offseason:
How is Roy Halladay feeling?
Is Chase Utley healthy?
Who is going to be in the outfield and bullpen?
Philadelphia's pitchers and catchers hold their first official workout Wednesday at Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The team holds its first full-squad workout Saturday. This will be one of the most interesting camps in recent years, because the Phils are trying to rebound after missing the postseason for the first time since 2006. There are health questions (Halladay, Utley, Delmon Young) and bounce-back questions (Ryan Howard, Michael Young). There are plenty of position battles, too.
Here is a quick look at some of the position battles:
There are six favorites for five outfield jobs. It is a list that includes Ben Revere, Delmon Young, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf. Rule 5 Draft pick Ender Inciarte also will get a good look in camp, but unless Revere suffers an injury, it is difficult to picture Inciarte making the team because he is more of a defensive center fielder. Revere is a lock to make the squad. Young also is a lock if he is healthy following ankle surgery in November. Even if he is not, the Phillies have said Young should only miss the first couple weeks of the season.
Mayberry and Nix are safe bets -- Mayberry because he is the only other outfielder in that group of six other than Revere who can play center field, and because he also has strong career splits against left-handed pitchers and has no options remaining; Nix because he is a veteran left-handed hitter with some pop who makes $1.35 million. That leaves Brown and Ruf competing for the final job. Brown might have the edge because of his relative big league experience, but a strong camp from Ruf could push him into a job.
There will be seven bullpen jobs, with four already claimed: closer Jonathan Papelbon, setup man Mike Adams, left-hander Antonio Bastardo and right-hander Chad Durbin. That leaves right-handers Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Michael Schwimer, Mike Stutes and Juan Cruz (who has not yet reported to camp), and left-handers Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Raul Valdes and Joe Savery competing for three jobs. This is a difficult race to handicap, but Aumont, De Fratus and Stutes might have the early edge among the right-handers. Diekman has loads of potential, but Horst and Valdes put up better numbers last season.
Philadelphia signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a Minor League contract in January, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced then there would be a competition for the team's two utility infield jobs. Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis would seem to be the front-runners based on strong seasons offensively (Frandsen) and defensively (Galvis) last year. But the Phils believe Betancourt is capable of pushing both of them.
"[He was signed] just to give us some depth," Amaro said about Betancourt, "some competition for one of the utility spots. We have Freddy and Frandsen, who have a chance to be on the club, and so does Yuni. He's got some experience and background. We'll see how it goes. It gives us some depth."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.