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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
RF Bryce Harper
CF Odubel Herrera
LF Andrew McCutchen
OF Nick Williams
OF Aaron Altherr
CF Roman Quinn
Potential odd men out
OF Dylan Cozens
IF Sean Rodriguez
IF Phil Gosselin
IF Andrew Romine
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