DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Bobby Abreu is into the final seven days of his tryout. The team has to inform him whether he’ll be on the opening day roster next Wednesday or he can opt out of his minor-league contract.
Abreu, 40, is hitting just .214 (6 for 28) with two doubles and a triple. Despite the low batting average, he has a .421 on-base percentage thanks to a team-high nine walks.
Abreu appears to be right on the bubble as far as making the team. The competition for reserve outfield jobs has gotten tighter because Tony Gwynn Jr. has had an excellent camp. Gwynn is hitting .304 (7 for 23) with a double. His on-base percentage is .467. He has shown speed on the bases and strong defense in center field, two things the Phillies would like to have on their bench.
So where does Abreu stand in manager Ryne Sandberg’s mind?
“You know, he gives quality at-bats,” Sandberg said. “He’s drawn a lot of walks. He hasn’t had a chance to swing and get hits in those at-bats. But he’s on base and he has good at-bats and he continues to do that, so that’s a good thing.”
Abreu will need to play passable defense in right field to make the team. The Phillies are still evaluating that. Abreu is listed as the rightfielder in Thursday’s split-squad game at Kissimmee.
“In the National League, it’s important for him to be able to play some right field,” Sandberg said. “He’ll continue to get some opportunities to do that.
“I’d say that he’s been adequate out there. He just needs to get some more reps out there and I need to get him some chances out there.”
The need for speed
Sandberg seems to want athleticism on his bench and if he doesn’t get it at the outset of this season, he might in the future.
Switch-hitting Cesar Hernandez has speed and versatility. He might be a nice piece on the bench this season. However, there’s a school of thought that says Hernandez, still just 23, needs to play every day at Triple A to enhance his development.
Hernandez signed at age 16 as a shortstop and was moved to second base, his primary position. He can still get by at shortstop and picked up center field last year. He played regularly in center field in the Venezuelan winter league.
Now Hernandez is learning another new position. He played three games at third base at the minor-league complex recently.
“More opportunity,” Hernandez said.
And more versatility that could help the Phillies' bench sooner or maybe later.
Domonic Brown is the latest Phillie to get hit with a stomach bug. He was scratched from the lineup for Wednesday’s game against the Blue Jays and sent home.
Brown’s absence created the chance for John Mayberry Jr. to play the full game against the Blue Jays, who just so happen to be on the lookout for a right-handed hitting reserve outfielder.
Mayberry, who will make $1.59 million this season, is very available for a trade. However, there is no evidence that the Blue Jays covet him.
If Wednesday’s game was an impromptu showcase, it wasn’t a good one. Mayberry went 0 for 4 and struck out twice.
Adams takes step
Reliever Mike Adams continued his rehab from shoulder surgery with an inning of work in a minor-league game Wednesday. It was his first competitive action since June. Adams hopes to be ready by mid-April.
The Phillies play split-squad games at home against the Blue Jays and on the road against the Astros on Thursday. A pair of No. 5 starter candidates will pitch. David Buchanan starts in Clearwater; Jeff Manship in Kissimmee.