CLEARWATER, Fla. — The way Charlie Manuel sees it, there is a way to keep his aging infield sharp. It requires a sure-handed defender who has experience — and skill — at three positions.
There is a place for Freddy Galvis on this team, Manuel said. The manager envisions all four of his infielders, each 33 or older, playing in at least 140 games. That, of course, is the best-case scenario.
Either way, Galvis could regularly find his way into the lineup.
Galvis, 23, will see time at his natural shortstop position along with second and third base this spring. He was the surprise story of last spring, ascending to opening-day second baseman in Chase Utley's absence. A fractured back and subsequent 50-game suspension for Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance, marred his rookie year.
He must improve his hitting. Defense alone will not keep him in the majors unless a .226 batting average and .254 on-base percentage rises.
Galvis is still a developing player. That raises the debate of whether he should be playing every day in triple A rather than serving as super sub in the majors. Manuel scoffs at that idea.
"I can see Freddy getting to play 60 or 70 games," Manuel said. "If he plays 60 games that's, what 240 at-bats? And after you add going into games and pinch-hitting you're talking about 300 at-bats. Does he help us giving us 300 at-bats here, or 500 at-bats in the minor leagues? I say being on our team, getting 300 at-bats."
Galvis offers more flexibility than Kevin Frandsen, who is signed for $850,000 and can play either third or second base. But both can make the team. The roster math makes sense. The Phillies can carry two outfielders on the bench in addition to a backup catcher plus the two reserve infielders.
Barring a surprise or unforeseen injury, that is how Manuel's bench should resemble.
IN SATURDAY'S INQUIRER
- Chase Utley's quest for health morphed from a step stool to a gym in Phoenix and finally a college campus in California. His words sound the same, as usual, and there is optimism.
- In the notebook, Delmon Young looks increasingly unlikely to begin 2013 healthy.
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