Rays 3, Phils 2: Galvis, Frandsen on inside track for utility jobs

Rays 3, Phils 2: Galvis, Frandsen on inside track for utility jobs

March 8, 2013, 4:45 pm
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Freddy Galvis led off Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays and quickly fell behind David Price, one ball and two strikes.

Price, of course, won the 2012 American League Cy Young award. It’s never fun getting behind in the count to a guy like that.

Galvis stayed cool, however. He took the next two pitches for balls then laced a double to left-center. Kevin Frandsen followed with a single to right and Galvis scored on a base hit to right by Michael Young.

This little bit of game-opening efficiency put a spotlight on two guys who could open the season as the Phils’ two utility infielders.

Though Galvis and Frandsen are technically battling others for those jobs, they put themselves on inside tracks with their performances in 2012. Galvis made strong contributions in the first half, Frandsen followed in the second half. Come opening day, they could both be on the 25-man roster, Galvis for his glove, Frandsen for his bat.

There are others in the mix for a position as a utility infielder. Yuniesky Betancourt, who has been a regular for three big-league clubs, has played well in spring training and can walk away from his contract on March 24 if he’s not added to the 40-man roster. The Phils are giving him a long look in this camp, as well as non-roster player Josh Fields.

But in the end, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Galvis, 23, and Frandsen, 30, get the jobs.

Phillies officials like the job Galvis did while filling in for Chase Utley at second base during the first half in 2012. Galvis played stellar defense –- “He was arguably the best defensive second baseman in the league,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said -- and chipped in with some timely hits (24 RBIs) despite batting just .226 in 58 games before fracturing his spine.

The only reason that the Phillies might choose to send Galvis to Triple A would be to have him play every day and continue his development. If that were the case, they could go with Betancourt. For the record, manager Charlie Manuel, a big fan of Galvis’ game, has frequently said this spring that he believes he can get Galvis enough at-bats to keep his progress moving in the right direction. Utley and Jimmy Rollins are both 34. It will be important that Manuel gets them occasional days off to maximize their production. Galvis can handle both positions well. He could also get time at third base if Manuel chooses to pull Young to protect a lead late in a game.

“I think we can get him 300 at-bats in the big leagues,” Manuel said Friday. “Even if we get him 250, I think that’s better than 450 in the minors. Freddy is a tremendous player.”

Frandsen can play four infield positions, though second and third are his primary spots. There is value in that versatility, but his strength, as he showed at Triple A and in the majors last season, is his bat. He hit .302 with 34 doubles in 99 games at Triple A last season then came to the majors and hit .338 with a .383 on-base percentage in 210 at-bats with the Phils. That earned him an $850,000 contract this season. He would have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors.

Frandsen is showing his bat strength again this spring, hitting .385 (10 for 26) with six extra-base hits in 10 games. He had two hits hits against Price on Friday, including a home run to left field.

“He’s hitting – big time,” Manuel said after Friday’s game. “Big-league hitting today off big-league pitching. He did well in 200 at-bats last year and it’s carrying over.”

The game

The Phils lost to Tampa Bay, 3-2.

Kyle Kendrick sailed through the first two innings and allowed three runs in the third to take the loss. Kendrick lines up to make the fourth start of the regular season. Manuel has still not named his opening-day starter. It is expected to be Cole Hamels.

Mike Stutes and Mike Adams both pitched a scoreless inning. Aaron Cook pitched two scoreless innings. Pitching coach Rich Dubee says the competition for bullpen jobs is just beginning. Cook could be a guy to keep an eye on if the Phils decide it’s important to keep someone who can work multiple innings.

Domonic delivers

Domonic Brown had two more hits to raise his spring average to .424 (14 for 33). Brown suffered a mild abrasion on his right hand when he was stepped on by Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney. Brown said he was fine.

“It’s three feet from his heart,” Manuel said. “He’s not dead by a long shot.”

Manuel continues to be impressed by the way Brown is swinging.

“He’s the bright spot of the spring,” Manuel said.

Up next

The Phillies play the Rays again on Saturday in Clearwater. Lefty John Lannan will start against Jeff Niemann.

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