More decisions coming for Phillies' brass

More decisions coming for Phillies' brass

March 24, 2014, 5:45 pm
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On Tuesday, the Phillies must make a decision on utility infielder Ronny Cedeno. (USA Today Images)

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Rain rolled in off the Gulf of Mexico and halted Monday afternoon’s Phillies-Blue Jays game in the eighth inning.

The Phillies were declared 6-3 winners.

The shortened game gave manager Ryne Sandberg, his coaching staff and a gaggle of front-office folks a head start on the latest meeting to determine who stays on the roster and who goes.

“Secret meetings,” Sandberg said with a chuckle.

The Phillies made a significant personnel decision on Sunday when they outrighted utility man Kevin Frandsen off the 40-man roster (see story). Frandsen has two more days to decide whether he wants to go to Triple A and collect his $900,000 salary or become a free agent.

On Tuesday, Phillies officials face another personnel decision with utility infielder Ronny Cedeno. The Phils must add him to their major-league roster, pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to go to Triple A or grant him his unconditional release.

Cedeno, who has been a regular at shortstop for the Cubs and Pirates over nine big-league seasons, became more valuable to the Phillies when Freddy Galvis was felled by a MRSA infection last week. After Jimmy Rollins left Monday's game, Cedeno entered at shortstop and made a couple of nice plays.

It is imperative the Phillies have a utility infielder who can play shortstop on their bench. Cesar Hernandez and Reid Brignac are also vying for a spot on the bench. Both played shortstop in minor-league games Monday. Hernandez then came over to the big-league game in Dunedin and lined a single to right in his only bat. Hernandez is versatile (he plays all over the infield and center field), swings from both sides and can run. There is an increasing feel that he will be with the team when the plane leaves for Texas this weekend.

On Wednesday, the Phils face another roster decision as Bobby Abreu’s opt-out date arrives.

Abreu is on the bubble and his situation has become complicated as he has had to sit out the last two days with a sore left shoulder.

“It’s not serious,” Sandberg said.

Abreu did not take batting practice Monday. He is tentatively scheduled to play Tuesday night in Tampa. Abreu has probably shown enough at the plate to make the team as a lefty bat, and Sandberg believes he could play “adequate” defense in right field. But if Abreu is hurt, it will be difficult to guarantee him $800,000.

Opening day rosters are to be submitted to Major League Baseball on Sunday. The Phillies will likely finalize theirs sometime Saturday. The team plays the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night and Saturday afternoon before flying to Texas in preparation of Monday’s opener against the Rangers, who suddenly have injury problems (see story).

The Phillies can go several ways in determining their roster. They could go with four starting pitchers for the first two weeks (they don’t need a fifth starter until April 13) and either seven or eight relievers. Seven relievers would mean a six-man bench; eight relievers would mean a five-man bench.

Jonathan Papelbon, Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Brad Lincoln, B.J. Rosenberg and Justin De Fratus appear set in the bullpen. Mario Hollands, Jeff Manship and Shawn Camp appear to be vying for the remaining one or two bullpen jobs.

Tony Gwynn Jr. appears set to come off the bench and provide outfield help. John Mayberry Jr. will be there unless the team trades him (he’s been available for months) and Abreu is on the bubble.

One thing to keep in mind with the bench: Phillies scouts are all over Florida and Arizona looking at players who might be traded or become free agents as spring training winds down. If there’s an upgrade to be made, the Phillies will look into it. They’ve made late signings and waiver claims in recent years with David Dellucci and Ezequiel Carrera. One player who could be available is outfielder Michael Taylor, who is out of minor-league options in Oakland. Taylor is a former Phillies prospect who was part of the package used to acquire Roy Halladay from Toronto in 2009.

In about a month, the Phillies will have to make a whole bunch of new roster moves as Galvis gets healthy and Cole Hamels becomes ready to join the starting pitching rotation.

Speaking of Hamels ...
The lefty threw another bullpen session Monday and continues to feel, in his words, “Great.”

All signs continue to point to his being ready in late April.

The game
David Buchanan, Hollands and Phillippe Aumont combined on five shutout innings for the Phillies in Monday’s win at Dunedin. Buchanan has allowed just three runs in 12 Grapefruit League innings. He is a candidate to be fifth starter until Hamels is ready. So is Manship, who starts on Tuesday night against the Yankees.

The Phillies had 11 hits. They are hitting .301 (72 for 239) in the last seven games. They are 8-15-3 on the spring.