Hernandez contending for a roster spot

The Phillies' Cesar Hernandez. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies need 40-man roster spots and got one by outrighting Kevin Frandsen to Lehigh Valley. Frandsen has 72 hours to accept the assignment or become a free agent.

He signed a guaranteed contract for $900,000 and if he decides to become a free agent, he would forfeit his salary.

So look for him to accept the assignment.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says that Frandsen could still find his way back to the team and that is correct. Yet for now, the Phillies desperately need spots on the 40-man roster.

They have 37 men on the 40-man, but have a number of non-roster players they are considering such as outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr., Bobby Abreu, relief pitcher Shawn Camp and infielders Reid Brignac and Ronny Cedeno.

And there are also non-roster starting pitchers Jeff Manship and David Buchanan who have looked good this exhibition season.

One player who was considered a long-shot who may have a chance to make the opening day roster is Cesar Hernandez. A long-time second baseman, Hernandez got his first major league action last season. He appeared in nine games as a second basemen and 22 more as a centerfielder for the Phillies.

And more importantly, Hernandez is on the 40-man roster and the Phillies wouldn’t have to make room for him. The Phillies need a backup third baseman and it was no coincidence that Hernandez entered Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Minnesota Twins in the sixth inning, replacing Cody Asche at third.

When asked the organizational stance on Hernandez and what he brings to the big league bench, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr replied, “We are still trying to figure that out.”

Hernandez, who turns 24 on May 23, has been with the Phillies since 2007.  He has hit on every level, including a .309 average last year at Lehigh Valley

In fact in 34 games with the Phillies, he hit .289. Even though Hernandez has speed to burn, he was caught on all three stolen base attempts last year, so more refinement is needed.

Still, he offers versatility, a decent bat and great speed. Previously, Hernandez wasn’t much of a consideration for a spot, but that was before the news on Friday that Darin Ruf suffered a left oblique strain and Freddy Galvis contracted MRSA.

At the very least, Hernandez, who is batting .258 this spring, is in the conversation. And with the regular season beginning in a week, that’s a good place to be at this point.