That means plenty of opportunity, whether you are a player who has struggled to crack the Phillies' roster the past couple of years, or a newcomer to camp who is looking for a fresh start.
There are intriguing possibilities in both categories. Exhibit A is John Mayberry Jr., whose name has been mentioned by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. on several occasions this offseason. The 27-year-old outfielder, who has made a couple of cameos for the Phillies while spending most of the last two seasons at Triple A Lehigh Valley, will be out of options after this season. That means this could be his last good chance of establishing himself as a contributor to the big-league club.
Mayberry hit .267 with a .328 on-base percentage, .740 OPS, 15 home runs and 111 strikeouts in 495 at-bats at Lehigh Valley last season, production that mirrored the two previous seasons he spent at Triple A. The 6-6, 235-pound slugger hit six home runs in 69 at-bats for the Phillies in 2009 and 2010, but he also struck out 27 times. Mayberry was supposed to participate in the Arizona Fall League, but suffered a calf injury on his first day out West.
Bringing more experience to the table is 28-year-old utility man Delwyn Young, who signed a minor league deal with the Phillies after 2 years in Pittsburgh. Young's offensive track record isn't overwhelming (.258 batting average, .709 OPS in 344 major games over five seasons), but he has 14 home runs in 595 plate-appearances over the last two seasons. Three of those home runs have come as a pinch-hitter, a role in which he has considerable experience. In 170 career at-bats as a pinch-hitter, Young has hit .271 with a .330 on-base percentage, .694 OPS, 17 RBI and 49 strikeouts.
Helping his cause is his versatility: Young is a switch-hitter who plays both rightfield and second base.
The future for Young and Mayberry could depend on whether top outfield prospect Domonic Brown makes the Opening Day roster or starts the season in the minors.
Utility man Wilson Valdez, who drew positive reviews from the Phillies for his play in place of the injured Jimmy Rollins last season, seems to have an inside track on a bench spot. Gload and Schneider are virtual locks.
Beyond them, the competition is open.
Not that Manuel would say otherwise.
Tomorrow: The bullpen
For more Phillies coverage and opinion,
read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese.
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