Non-Roster Players Carry Long Odds

Cracking the roster of the defending World Champions is never easy and this season will be no different. There are a bunch of players - young and old - looking to crack the roster after receiving non-roster invitations to camp this spring.

For Mike Koplove, it's just a matter of doing what he can do and hoping for someone to notice. "There's obviously not a ton of room in the bullpen," Koplove told Phillies.com. "I just have to make myself the guy that they go to. Hopefully, I'm going to go out there and compete as best I can."

Koplove grew up in South Philly and spent much of the summer of '93 at The Vet watching the National League Champion club. His earliest memories go back to the '83 team that lost to Baltimore in the World Series. Putting on red pinstripes for the first time was a dream come true. "It's a great feeling. I'd be lying if I said 'I didn't go in the bathroom and check it out; see what my name looked like on the back'," joked Koplove to the Phillies Scott Palmer.

Having bounced around in his career, Koplove knows the spring drill and will just be hoping for a shot to stick with his favorite ballclub.

The same can be said for Blaine Neal. The right-handed reliever has pitched parts of five seasons in the majors and has bounced around the minors since 1996. The Marlton, N.J. native also grew up as a Phillies fan, but much like Koplove, has long odds to make the club out of camp.

Veteran Gary Majewski signed a minor league deal with the Phillies over the winter and is in camp trying to open some eyes. Majewski hasn't had much success since being traded from Washington to Cincinnati in 2006 and overcoming injuries along the way. His career ERA in Cincinnati stands at 7.38, which won't get him anywhere near Philadelphia.

Rule 5 pick Bobby Mosebach also has long odds, but he has the advantage of coming to the Phillies as a Rule 5 player, meaning they have to keep him or risk losing him. Mosebach has pitched four seasons in the minors and hasn't pitched higher than Double-A. He also hasn't posted great numbers and the odds are long that he'll be able to find a spot in the bullpen without a very strong showing this spring.

As for position players, the most recognizable is Marcus Giles. Giles played six seasons in Atlanta and one in San Diego before sitting out last season after failing to make the Rockies out of spring training. With Pedro Feliz lagging behind on his rehab schedule from back surgery, Giles might have an added opportunity to stick with the club.

Newcomer Terry Tiffee will also fight for a spot with the club. The third baseman was a pretty strong prospect in the Twins organization a number of years ago, but has never been able to live up to the projections. He continues to put up big Triple-A numbers - he hit .378 at Las Vegas last season - but tends to sputter when he gets a shot at the majors.

There simply isn't much roster turnover on a team like the Phillies, so many of these non-roster players will either find themselves back in the minors or possibly even looking elsewhere for work. Since every team needs insurance, the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs could benefit from the lack of space for these guys at the major league level. For now though, these guys will just have to enjoy the invitation and do what they can to get a plane ticket to Philadelphia come April.


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