Projecting Phillies' opening day roster on position side

Projecting Phillies' opening day roster on position side

On Friday, we took a look at the Phillies' projected opening day pitching staff, assuming they open with 13 arms and 12 bats as they did a year ago.

There were a few tough calls on the pitching side — Victor Arano vs. Edubray Ramos vs. Juan Nicasio, James Pazos vs. Adam Morgan — and there figure to be a few tough calls on the position side of things as well.

Quinn's injury

Injuries could play a role in the Phillies' crowded outfield. Roman Quinn has been sidelined since Feb. 27 with a mild oblique strain. He has just six plate appearances in Grapefruit League play. 

It tends to take a player a month to come back from an oblique strain. The Phillies will proceed with caution with Quinn, who has a lengthy track record of injuries. Even if he's able to return ahead of schedule, will he compile enough spring training plate appearances to be ready for the season?

The Phillies could open the season with Quinn on the injured list. This would seem to be the smart and likely way to go because it would allow the Phils to put Quinn on a rehab clock and get him minor-league plate appearances to prepare himself for his eventual call-up. Quinn is out of minor-league options, so IL'ing him at the end of March is the one way to let him get healthy and prepared in the minors.

Altherr vs. Cozens

Aaron Altherr is out of options. Dylan Cozens has options remaining.

Altherr can play center field, and aside from Quinn might still be the Phillies' best defensive outfielder.

Is that enough for Altherr to crack the opening day roster?

Cozens will almost certainly begin the season at Triple A. It makes more sense to get him everyday plate appearances than to sit him on a major-league bench.

Backup catcher

Andrew Knapp, who singled in each of his first three plate appearances Sunday in Sarasota, does have options left. He's battling with spring training invite Drew Butera for the backup catcher's job.

Knapp spent almost all season with the Phillies in 2018. He had his moments, but it wasn't a highly productive year. He hit .198/.294/.316 in 215 plate appearances and had some struggles defensively. 

Butera, who has homered twice already this spring, doesn't have much of an offensive track record either. He's a career .201 hitter with a .258 OBP. Butera has lasted nine seasons in the majors because of his defense, not his bat. If the Phillies prioritize defense out of J.T. Realmuto's backup, Butera may get the nod.

However, Knapp is on the 40-man roster and Butera is not. In order to add Butera to the 40, the Phillies would have to drop someone like Mitch Walding. They're going to add a catcher to the 40-man roster by September anyway, so it might not be too prohibitive of a factor.

• • •

The way-too-early guess on how it shakes out for the Phils on opening day — if they carry 12 position players.

A lot can change between now and March 28 but this should provide an idea of who's on the bubble.

Catcher (2)

J.T. Realmuto
Andrew Knapp

Infield (5)

1B Rhys Hoskins
2B Cesar Hernandez
SS Jean Segura
3B Maikel Franco
UTIL Scott Kingery

Teams typically carry more than five infielders. Kingery's ability to play each infield position helps but it would leave the Phils thin if someone were to get hurt. That's the value of having guys like Sean Rodriguez and Phil Gosselin if the Phils are able to hold onto them. Gosselin has looked good so far in camp and homered in his first plate appearance Sunday against the Orioles.

Outfield (5)

RF Bryce Harper
CF Odubel Herrera
LF Andrew McCutchen
OF Nick Williams
OF Aaron Altherr

Injured list?

CF Roman Quinn

Potential odd men out

OF Dylan Cozens
IF Sean Rodriguez
IF Phil Gosselin
IF Andrew Romine

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Former Phillie Ben Lively shares his quarantine experience in South Korea

Former Phillie Ben Lively shares his quarantine experience in South Korea

This wasn't how Ben Lively envisioned his first full year in South Korea.

The former Phillie is now living in Daegu, where the coronavirus outbreak in South Korea began and quickly spread. After 14 days by himself looking at the same four walls, Lively is finally able to practice again today. 

"I'm just ready to get out of my apartment. It's been 14 days straight," Lively told NBC10's John Clark. "So far it's been ... now I know what to do when I'm bored by myself in an apartment for two weeks.

"We had spring training in Okinawa, Japan, then we actually got sent back to America for like a week and a half. We came back and the next day they followed the Korean law saying that all foreign travelers have to be quarantined 14 days just to go outside. 

"If you got caught outside, there was a chance you could be deported. Wouldn't be good."

Tuesday was Lively's last day under quarantine. He was given a COVID-19 test the second day he was back in South Korea (March 26) and was re-tested this week. He says all of his teammates foreign to Korea tested negative.

Lively's Korean teammates have not been tested, per his knowledge. "I think the only time they test a person that has been here is when they have symptoms," he said.

South Korea has seemingly done a better job of containing coronavirus than any country in the world. As of April 8, the country has seen 10,384 reported cases and 200 total deaths. The number of new cases per day has ranged between 47 and 152 since March 12, according to Worldometer.

Opening day for the Korea Baseball Organization was supposed to be March 28, two days after MLB's opening day. Instead, the KBO is just opening practices back up to its foreign players and hopes to open its season by early May.

"The facilities we have at our field, there's going to be no pedestrians or fans, and they clean it every day," Lively said. "You don't necessarily have to wear a mask there, it's just going to be our team, small group of people. When you're going around though you've definitely got to wear a mask."

On Tuesday, an ESPN report outlined an ambitious potential plan by MLB to play regular-season games in empty stadiums in Arizona by late-May or early-June. The commissioner's office released a statement later in the day saying that numerous options are under consideration.

In South Korea, teams still plan to travel as of now.

"We don't have anything like that here. We're gonna travel, go city to city," Lively said. "It's definitely slowing down here, there's barely any new cases here now. They have it on pretty good lockdown over here. We still have no idea what the plan is after the games, whether we go back to the hotel or keep traveling back and forth."

Lively is eager to compete and carve out his role. He spent three seasons in the majors, pitching 112⅓ of his 120 innings with the Phillies. He made 15 starts for the 2017 Phils and went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA.

The Phillies acquired him on New Year's Eve 2015 from the Reds for Marlon Byrd. In Lively's first year in the Phillies' system, he went 18-5 with a 2.69 ERA, splitting time between Double A and Triple A. He was let go by the Phillies late in the 2018 season and went to the Royals and Diamondbacks before his release in Arizona last August.

In Korea, Lively is teammates with former Phillie David Buchanan, who pitched here in 2014 and 2015. Buchanan lives a building over from Lively.

"Buchanan had a plan for his wife and kid to come over here the first week we started," Lively said. "I can see how tough it is on him. ... I tell everyone it still feels like a movie, can't really grasp what's going on still."

The rest of the baseball world is watching Korea to see how the KBO fares in its attempt to bring baseball back by May.

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Phillies' Andrew McCutchen's relatable facemask story is amazing, and helpful

Phillies' Andrew McCutchen's relatable facemask story is amazing, and helpful

We say it often, but right now pro athletes really are just like us: learning how to deal with social distancing strategies and facemask recommendations.

Phillies outfielder Andrew McCutchen is working on getting healthy in case the Major League Baseball season begins this spring, but he also needs to hit the store now and then for everyday supplies. 

After Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf advised all Pennsylvania residents to wear facemasks in public to fight the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, McCutchen threw together a "bootleg" facemask to protect himself and those around him, but he was feeling a little... embarrassed by how DIY the mask was.

That is, until he saw what everyone else was wearing:

Between the acting, the wardrobe changes, and the sound effects, that's some Oscar-worthy work from McCutchen. 

(Will he start challenging Matisse Thybulle for the title of Content King?)

Outside of giving us a laugh, McCutchen also makes a good point and sends an important message: We're all dealing with this different world as one team.

While you might think putting on a facemask looks funny, or is a little uncomfortable, you're certainly not alone - even baseball stars are dealing with it - so let's tackle this, together.

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