CLEARWATER, Fla. — Seven days from now, the Phillies will travel to Orlando for their 32d and final Grapefruit League game. They'll hop on a charter flight from MCO to PHL in the early evening and then officially head north.
And we're still very much at a loss for what the roster should look like come then.
Such questions remain: Who will fill out the bench and where will they come from? Do they take 11 or 12 pitchers? Is Jose Contreras ready? Are the Phillies being truthful when they say Freddy Galvis is the guy at second?
The spring has progressed in an unpredicted fashion. Read Version 2.0 of the roster predictions and Version 1.0 before tackling the third and final projection.
Ruiz, as expected, will receive around 40 at-bats this spring in a lighter workload. He's been excellent at the plate (15 for 31 with five XBH for a .484/.515/.774 slash line). If anything, the Phillies confirmed what they already knew: Erik Kratz is a viable third catching option. He's hit .421 (8 for 19) this spring, but Brian Schneider still offers better defense.
Ah yes, the Utility Infielder To Be Named Later. The Phillies will acquire a utility infielder either via trade or free agency before opening day. There is simply no one internally to fill the role. Sure, Pete Orr could sneak in if there is no better option, but I suspect the Phillies will find one. Plenty of names have been mentioned, but the player could be someone who is a late cut from another camp because of a roster crunch.
John Mayberry Jr.
We're adding another position player to the mix because of all the uncertainty with the offense. This will be a righthanded bat the Phillies acquire much like the utility infielder. (Keep an eye on Indians camp, where Ryan Spilborghs and Jose Lopez are on the roster bubble.) Pierre still earns the nod over Scott Podsednik because the Phillies will value his 711 plate appearances over 60 Grapefruit League ones. And Podsednik can go to the minors while Pierre cannot.
Technically, this is only four to begin the season as Joe Blanton will almost certainly be skipped the first time through the rotation because of extra off days. Blanton will work from the bullpen to start.
This really could go either way, but with the use of a four-man rotation to begin the season, the Phillies can afford to take 11 pitchers north. Contreras has been decent in camp and he'll be subject to a conservative workload early in the season. This unit could undergo a great deal of change during the season given all the useful parts at triple-A Lehigh Valley.
DISABLED LIST (3)
Someone out there will run a Howard/Utley return date contest. Good luck with that.
FIRST FOUR OUT
Now tell me where I'm wrong.
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