CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The pathway for Andrew Knapp to make the Phillies' opening day roster as the backup catcher was cleared way back in November when he was added to the 40-man roster.
The job all but became Knapp's on Monday when the team released two veteran catchers who were not on the 40-man roster. When Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday were let go, Knapp became one of just two catchers in camp, the other being starter Cameron Rupp (see story).
So it's pretty obvious that the 25-year-old Knapp will open the season with the big club -- even though nothing will become official until rosters are filed with the commissioner's office this weekend.
"Obviously there are four or five days left," Knapp said. "I'm just going to keep trying to make good impressions and try to win a job. I'm keeping my head down, trying not to think about it too much."
Knapp was the Phillies' second-round draft pick of Cal-Berkeley in 2013. He has never played in the majors.
"It would be a dream come true," he said. "Everyone hopes to get called up at some point but to make a team on opening day would be pretty special and it would be the best moment in my career so far."
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin acknowledged that Knapp would probably make the club.
Mackanin would like to have the rest of his roster in order over the next day or two.
"As soon as possible," he said. "Because the last four or five games I'd like to play almost as if it were a season -- using the bullpen that way, using the bench in a certain way, seeing what it looks like, our bench guys, all our hitters. We just don't want to make a bad decision so we're just going to string it out as long as we can."
Roster questions must still be answered on the bench and in the bullpen.
How does the bench shape up? Andres Blanco, Aaron Altherr and Knapp are set. The Phils are expected to go with a five-man bench so that leaves two openings. There are four players vying for those spots: Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi and Jesmuel Valentin. Valentin has impressed, but at 22 years old, he would benefit from playing every day at Triple A.
Mackanin praised Stassi's work on Monday. If Stassi makes the club, the final spot would come down to Coghlan and Nava.
"Stassi has obviously made a great impression, mainly because, not necessarily because of his results, but the fact that he had a lot of quality at-bats," Mackanin said. "It looks like he can handle making adjustments to the different pitchers and different situations. He seemed to handle left-handers well. He made a good impression, as has Coughlan. Nava has also been consistent throughout the spring."
Stassi, Coghlan and Nava are all non-roster players so the Phils would have to clear 40-man roster space to add any of them.
Two spots remain open in the bullpen. Adam Morgan, Joely Rodriguez, Luis Garcia, Alec Asher and Cesar Ramos are the candidates. All but Ramos is on the 40-man roster.
How will this all shake out?
More answers are probably coming Tuesday.