Phillies bench questions linger heading into spring training

Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds
Philadelphia Phillies v Cincinnati Reds / Kirk Irwin/GettyImages

The Phillies are likely looking at a spring training bench position battle after the recent signing of Josh Harrison.

The Philadelphia Phillies will not have many roster spots up for grabs come spring training. This offseason, the club has filled many of their needs that were established after the 2022 season ended with a Game 6 loss to the Houston Astros in the World Series.

During spring training, bullpen spots are usually won or lost and certain areas could be affected by injury. This spring, in particular, the Phillies will determine their fifth starter — and maybe sixth should Rob Thomson go that route — and their final bench spots.

With the recent addition of veteran infielder Josh Harrison, the Phillies have bolstered their bench with a relatively reliable hitter for a player who will not need to be in the lineup daily. It also seems clear now that, barring injury, three out of five bench spots are taken. Harrison has played mainly second and third base, but has played some corner outfield as well.

The team will have backup catcher Garrett Stubbs and versatile infielder Edmundo Sosa joining Harrison as key bench pieces. That leaves two spots for four players in Dalton Guthrie, Jake Cave, Kody Clemens, and Darick Hall.

Given his ability to play centerfield and the fact that the front office was willing to trade his competition in Matt Vierling, it would seem that Guthrie would be a frontrunner for one of those open spots. In a small sample size, Guthrie performed well last season, knocking seven hits in 21 at-bats with one home run and five RBI.

Both Clemens and Cave struggled at the plate in 2022. Cave finished the season with a .644 OPS in 164 at-bats. Clemens, meanwhile, posted a .505 OPS in 117 at-bats. Neither are large enough sample sizes to completely disregard either player, but one would really need to have a strong showing this spring to make the Opening Day roster.

Hall was a fan-favorite when he was called up after Bryce Harper went on the injured list with a broken thumb. The slugging first baseman displayed huge amounts of power — smashing nine home runs in 136 at-bats and posting an OPS of .804. While Hall demonstrated that he could hit the ball out of the yard, he did have well-documented struggles against left-handed pitching. He hit just .083 against left-handers, while hitting .266 against right-handers.

The addition of Harrison and his certain level of versatility may have opened the door for Hall, who would mainly be used in a DH role against right-handed hitting while Harper recovers from offseason elbow surgery.

While anything can happen in spring training, it would seem that Guthrie and Hall have the advantage to make the roster that will face the Texas Rangers on Opening Day. Nothing is set in stone, but the speculation gives us something to think about, as pitchers and catchers report in just a couple of weeks to Clearwater.