Room For Rookies? Victorino Fights For a Job

Shane Victorino

Of all the rookies in camp, Shane Victorino may have the best shot at sticking with the big league club when they head north this spring. Of course, Gavin Floyd, Ryan Howard and others will also get looks. Plus, some veterans are in camp looking to find major league work for themselves.

The Phillies roster has only a few select spots that are open to interpretation. Most of the jobs are filled with little room for movement. Depending on how many pitchers the Phillies decide to carry, there may be some opportunities for new faces to make the club and rookies figure into some of those equations.

Gavin Floyd and Ryan Howard are the most notable. Both figure to start the year at Scranton, with Howard learning to play left field and Floyd anchoring the rotation. There has been talk of Floyd winning a job with the Phillies as a reliever, much like Ryan Madson did last spring. That's not going to happen. Floyd is too valuable as a starter and has been groomed for a starting job from day one. Madson had a lot of talent and potential, but simply put, he wasn't Gavin Floyd. The Phillies will use the same logic with Howard that they used with Chase Utley last season, preferring to have him play everyday at Scranton rather than occasionally in Philadelphia. Plus, he'll be learning a new position and needs the work.

Having said all of that, if Brett Myers falters or if there's an injury to a starting pitcher, look for Gavin Floyd to make the club. Likewise, if Pat Burrell's cranky wrist acts up or if God forbid, something happens to Jim Thome, then Howard may get a ticket to Philadelphia. Stay tuned.

As for utility players, all eyes will be on Shane Victorino. The Phillies took Victorino in the Rule 5 Draft last December and think that he has a chance to win a job with the club. If they don't keep him on the major league roster, then he must be offered back to the Dodgers and the Phillies could lose him. Needless to say, Victorino will get plenty of opportunity to play this spring and show how he may be able to help the Phillies.

As for pitchers, there may be more opportunities in the bullpen. Dan Giese will get a look this spring and could win a job, depending on how many pitchers the Phillies carry and how he performs under somewhat of a microscope. By all accounts, he's ready for the majors, but is going to find it tough to win a job with the big league club. Edwin Moreno, who the Phillies grabbed off the waiver wire when the Rangers released him will also get a look this spring, but his arrival isn't imminent. He pitched at AA and has battled some elbow problems in the past, so he is a question mark and may start this season back at AA for the Phillies. Another waiver claimant, Pedro Liriano has a slightly better shot at finding work in Philly. Liriano made his major league debut with the Brewers last season and posted a 4.02 ERA in 11 big league games.

In addition to rookies, there are a few others fighting for major league jobs.

Jose Offerman signed a minor league deal with the Phillies, but is planning on being in the majors. There are no guarantees that if he doesn't make the club that he'll play at AAA for the Phillies, so he'll get a long look. He may see some time in the outfield, in addition to his usual infield spots, which would make him even more valuable as a utility player. Placido Polanco has made the club, but he too, may see some time in the outfield as Charlie Manuel looks to get him a good amount of at bats. If anything were to happen to Mike Lieberthal or Todd Pratt, A.J. Hinch would likely get the call to take over as the Phillies' backup catcher. Otherwise, he'll be at Scranton, splitting time with young Carlos Ruiz behind the plate.

As for other pitching prospects, Aaron Fultz will try to show that he could be valuable to the Phillies as a left-handed specialist. For now, Rheal Cormier is the only lefty in the 'pen and Fultz might be worth a look. Former Met Mike Bacsik will also get a shot at being a situational left-hander in Manuel's bullpen. Clay Condrey has some major league experience with San Diego, but will likely start the year at Scranton, playing second fiddle to Gavin Floyd. Of course, Keith Bucktrot could move into the number two spot with the Red Barons with an impressive spring.

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