Eyebrows were raised with Alex Gonzalez signed on to serve as a utility infielder for the Phillies. Earlier in the off-season, Abraham Nunez made the move to the Phillies and figured on being able to serve as a backup to David Bell. But with the addition of both Nunez and Gonzalez, things were pretty crowded. That's when all eyes shifted to Tomas Perez and the thought that he might not be in the Phillies' plans for the upcoming season.
Tomas Perez is off playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic (he's 0-for-2 with an error) and hasn't been in camp to fight for his spot with the club. He also hasn't been around to face questions about reports that the Florida Marlins could have an interest in adding him to their roster filled with young prospects. In Florida, Perez could see considerable playing time if youngster Dan Uggla were to stumble at second base. Uggla is somewhat of a weak link in the Marlins plans and isn't thought to be ready for the majors, although he's hitting .333 (11-for-33) this spring. Reports are that the Marlins have at least let the Phillies know that they're interested in Perez, who could serve as a utility infielder and pseudo coach for the young team.
With Perez and Chase Utley both playing in the WBC, there have been opportunities for other players to see time in the Phillies' infield this spring.
Of the players potentially looking for work with the Phillies infield, Matt Kata has the most at bats, but is hitting just .190 (4-for-21) and figures to be back at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Former Dodgers second baseman Joe Thurston is in camp, but the Phillies have been very disappointed in his play both in the field and at the plate, where he's hitting just .182 (2-for-11). Veteran Padres' minor leaguer Bobby Scales is 0-for-10 in his pursuit of a major league job. Danny Sandoval has played pretty well, hitting .267 (4-for-15), but isn't considered to have much of a shot at making the club either.
Chris Coste has taken advantage of his opportunity. The 33 year old is looking for his first shot at being a major leaguer and is hitting .389 (7-for-18) this spring. He's also shown his versatility and can play almost anywhere on the field, including working behind the plate, where the Phillies have put him on a few occasions this spring with good results. Coste is one of those guys that you just have to root for and it's not out of the question that he could go north with the Phillies and he should at least be one of the last cuts that would be made, if he does get cut.
So, where does the infield stand? Well, the starting lineup has Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Third base is a question mark because of David Bell and his nagging back injury. Odds are that he won't start the season with the team, meaning that there would be at least a temporary opening with the club. When Bell is healthy, the Phillies would have Nunez, Gonzalez and Perez as backup infielders, which is one too many. Add Coste to the mix and there is an official logjam.
It's unlikely that Perez would be dealt until very late in camp, if he is dealt. That would give the Phillies every opportunity to look at Coste and to determine how long Bell may be out. It appears though that Perez, at this point, has an uphill climb to make the club and will likely be elsewhere. Coste could fill that temporary hold left by Bell to start the season.