Phillies Making Opening Day Roster Decisions Sunday Night

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Mar 24, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Brock Stassi (78) works out prior to their spring training game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 24, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Brock Stassi (78) works out prior to their spring training game against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Phillies are going to convene and make the final decisions on how the team’s roster will be filled out Sunday night for Opening Day.

After nearly six weeks of spring training and several bouts of cuts, the Phillies are close to setting their roster for Opening Day of the 2017 season. Manager Pete Mackanin and the rest of the coaching staff will get together and determine who will make the roster Sunday night.

While a majority of the roster was already set heading into spring training, there were still some openings on the roster. One, if not two, of those openings, came in the bullpen depending on whether or not you considered lefty Joely Rodriguez a lock for the bullpen.

The other opening was up in the air in camp. The competition thinned slightly as Philadelphia released non-roster invitee Sean Burnett Sunday. Even then, several pitchers could very well emerge as the last reliever in the bullpen. Lefty Adam Morgan, righties Alec Asher and Luis Garcia, and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte could all very well fill that last spot.

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According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, Mackanin said that the team will discuss the potential of carrying eight relievers at the cost of one player off the bench.

The Phils also have to make some decisions about which players will be on the bench come Opening Day. The situation is complicated by the fact that several of the players who are looking for a spot on the bench are non-roster invitees.

They would have to be added to the 40-man roster at the cost of someone already on the roster.

Mackanin told Salisbury:

"“We’re trying to come up with the best plan for when we break, and a lot of it has to do with the non-roster players. If we make a move, someone has to come off (the 40-man roster) and that’s an issue.”"

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One player who is expected to be on the bench for the team is catcher Andrew Knapp. He hasn’t had the best spring but did hit a home run in Sunday’s game. However, Mackanin expressed his confidence in Knapp, likely insinuating that he will make the team: [quote via Matt Gelb of Philly.com]

"“I know he hasn’t had a good spring, but I know he can hit. All the minor-league people tell me he can hit, and he’s coming around. As long as he’s catching well – he made a couple of nice throws. Knapp is holding his own right now. Given more at-bats, he’s going to start showing that he’s a better hitter.”"

Some of other spots on the bench could go to Jesmuel Valentin and non-roster invitees Brock Stassi and Chris Coghlan. Our own George Stockburger laid out a scenario where Stassi and Coghlan would make the roster with Coghlan as the fifth outfielder and Stassi as the backup first baseman. Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice projected Coghlan and Valentin to make the roster over Stassi. Personally, I see the Phils taking Stassi and Valentin with Stassi serving as the fifth outfielder as well as the backup first baseman.

The situation on the bench could be thrown for a loop if the team decides to bring along a third catcher – either Ryan Hanigan or Bryan Holaday – on the roster alongside Knapp and Cameron Rupp. Mackanin told Salisbury it is a “possibility” that was discussed before and will be discussed again.

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Mackanin said to expect more roster news on Monday, and it may be the final cuts as several of the non-roster invitees (Coghlan, Holaday, Hanigan) can opt out of their deals after Sunday if they aren’t added to the 40-man roster.

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