On Easter Sunday, the Phillies rested. On Monday night, they begin their quest to regain their spot as top dogs in the NL East.
The 25-man roster has been set as the team heads down to Atlanta for their opening night contest against the Braves. Tim Hudson will toe the rubber against my NL Cy Young pick Cole Hamels in a 7:10pm ET start. And while there were some small surprises, this year’s roster decisions were much more settled than last year’s, when the Phils had to make do without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
“It was certainly less stressful,” Amaro said, per CSNPhilly’s John Finger. “It’s nice to have your No. 3 and 4 hitters there to pencil in. Last year we have Jimmy Rollins hitting third and (Hunter) Pence hitting fourth. It’s a little different and it puts the guys in the right spot. Any time you take those guys out of the lineup it puts a lot of pressure on some guys that might not be ready to handle it.”
As training camp wound down, there were really only a couple of bench and bullpen spots up for grabs.
In the outfield, Domonic Brown won a spot with his huge spring, meaning he’ll begin the season as the team’s everyday left fielder, with Ben Revere in center. With Delmon Young being placed on the disabled list, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix both made the team and will platoon in right until Young is ready to return. Making the team as a fifth outfielder is Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte, if only because of his defense and the thought of how Harry Kalas would say his name anytime he did something cool.
WHAT A DIVING GRAB BY EN-DAR, EN-CEE-ARE-TAAAAAYYYYY!
I miss Harry.
Of course, a decision will have to be made in the outfield once Young is ready to come off the disabled list. Nix seems like the most obvious choice to be let go, but getting rid of him would erase the only left-handed outfield bat off the bench not named Inciarte. And if the Phils decided to drop Inciarte, they would have to either offer him back to Arizona or try to swing a trade for him and put him in the minors.
In the bullpen, Raul Valdes and Jeremy Horst both made the team, giving the Phils three left-handed relievers. It’s a bit unusual, but Valdes can pitch multiple innings, something that is always of value in the ‘pen. The final spot went to Phillippe Aumont, who got the nod over 2011 bullpen savior Mike Stutes, who clearly needed a bit more time as he comes back after missing most of last year. He’ll likely be back either sometimes this year, or next.
The two back-up infield positions went to defensive whiz Freddy Galvis, who can play second, shortstop and third as well as the outfield, and Kevin Frandsen, whose solid stick works well as a back-up at second and third. Mayberry can back up Howard at first base.
The last remaining question was at the back-up catcher position, where Humberto Quintero made the team over Steven Lerud, mainly for defensive reasons. Lerud played well in the spring, and will start as the back-up in AAA until Quintero is either sent down or released when Chooch returns from his 25-game suspension.
So, with the final decisions made, the team heads to Atlanta for their season-opener against the powerful Braves.
And just think of it. Michael Martinez and Pete Orr are nowhere to be found.
It truly is the dawn of a new season.