The Phillies finalized their opening-day 25-man roster, emphasizing versatility in filling out the bench. They will have 12 pitchers and five bench players when their season opens on Monday in Arlington, Texas, against the Rangers.
"We have a lot of flexibility with this group," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said shortly after Saturday's exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates was canceled by rain.
The Phillies selected the contracts of three nonroster invitees: outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr.; righthander Jeff Manship; and 25-year-old lefthander Mario Hollands, among the most pleasant surprises of spring training after splitting last year between single-A Clearwater and double-A Reading.
"It hasn't hit me yet and is still a little too fresh, but I am very thankful for the opportunity," said Hollands, who had a 3.09 ERA in 112/3 spring innings. "I am still in a little bit of a shock, but I am happy."
The 31-year-old Gwynn, who had an .814 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this spring, should have a sizable role since he can play all three outfield positions. He spent last season playing for Albuquerque, the triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"You forget what that feeling is like when you walk into an office and find out you are on a team, no matter how many times you have been on a big-league roster," said Gwynn, who has appeared in 605 major-league games.
Another spot on the 40-man roster was created by transferring righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
Shortstop Reid Brignac and veteran righthanded reliever Shawn Camp were reassigned to triple-A Lehigh Valley.
A final piece was added late Friday night, when the Phillies acquired infielder Jayson Nix from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash.
The brother of former Phillie Laynce Nix, Jayson played for the New York Yankees last year. He made 48 appearances at shortstop, 41 at third base, and four at second base.
Amaro considers Nix's strongest positions second and third base, but the Phillies could also use him at shortstop.
Besides Nix and Gwynn, the other bench players at the start of the season are first baseman-outfielder John Mayberry Jr., infielder Cesar Hernandez, and catcher Wil Nieves.
The Phillies have an older core, with five starting position players age 34 or older. Amaro says major-league teams, regardless of their age, must now be constructed differently.
"Really for me in this day and age with PEDs and all that stuff out of it, you just can't count on eight players going out and playing 160 games. It is not going to happen," Amaro said.
Notes. When asked for a realistic goal, Amaro didn't hedge. "Win the National League East," he said. To which manager Ryne Sandberg replied, "I agree." . . . The Phillies say that tickets for Saturday's canceled game can be exchanged for any 2014 regular-season game, excluding the home opener April 7 against the Milwaukee Brewers. . . . The Phillies ended with a 9-18-3 exhibition record and didn't score a run in their last 27 innings.
Justin De Fratus
Roberto Hernandez Mario Hollands
Tony Gwynn Jr.
John Mayberry Jr.