3 Phillies spring training storylines to watch: Johan Rojas, bullpen battle, Sánchez's spot

With spring training finally getting underway, here are three of the top storylines to watch over the next six weeks.
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Johan Rojas is a top storyline to watch during spring training
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Johan Rojas is a top storyline to watch during spring training / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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Johan Rojas and the never-ending questions in the outfield

All offseason we've heard about the outfield "situation" and the question marks swirling around Johan Rojas.

After struggling mightily at the plate through the postseason, it's not a sure thing that the youngster's bat is MLB-ready. He hit .302 with a .771 OPS in 59 games during the regular season — buoyed by an unsustainable .410 BABIP — but wilted in the playoffs, collecting just four hits in 45 plate appearances for a meek .093/.114/.163 slash line.

Regardless, the Phillies believe in Rojas and want to give him the starting center field job on Opening Day. With zero questions about his Gold Glove-caliber defense, they will give Rojas every opportunity to prove himself with the bat this spring. He doesn't need to be a world-beater; he just needs to hit well enough to hold down the ninth spot in the lineup on an everyday basis.

"We want to give an opportunity to Rojas," Dombrowski said in a recent interview. "He did not have a good postseason offensively, but he played well for us before, and he's an outstanding defensive outfielder so that makes us better right off the bat in that regard ... there's not a lot of other holes there if you're going to give Rojas the opportunity."

It's a precarious position to be in, and the outfield plans balance on a knife-edge and will require multiple things to go right. All eyes will be on Rojas from the opening of the Grapefruit League schedule on Feb. 24 to see if his offseason work has paid off.

If Rojas can earn the job over the next six weeks, that moves Brandon Marsh over to left field, and the Phillies are hoping he can hit lefties so they can get him in the lineup as often as possible. If Rojas needs seasoning in Triple-A to start the year, that moves Marsh over to center and relies on a platoon of Cristian Pache and Jake Cave in left.

This situation has only been more complicated by the recent news of Marsh's surprise knee surgery. He could take 3-4 weeks to get back into action, which won't give him much time to get up to speed for Opening Day. Not having to rely on him as the everyday center fielder out of the gate would be helpful.

It all depends on Rojas' bat.