Phillies' backup infield pool dries up

Posted: March 27, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - A white placard bearing his name still graced the top of the locker where he used to dress, but Kevin Frandsen was nowhere to be found yesterday. Nor is he expected to be found from this point forward, at least not at Bright House Field or Citizens Bank Park or anywhere else where players in Phillies jerseys congregate.

The veteran infielder informed the organization yesterday that he had decided to decline an assignment to Triple A Lehigh Valley, a move that came as a mild surprise since it meant he was forgoing the $900,000 salary he was guaranteed to be paid for 2014. Instead, Frandsen decided to become a free agent, which could give him a better opportunity to sign with a team that offers a more definite major league role, but which could also require him to sacrifice some money (he already had passed through waivers unclaimed).

Both manager Ryne Sandberg and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged surprise at Frandsen's decision, making it the latest unexpected twist to factor into their attempts to identify the five or six bench players they will carry on their Opening Day roster on March 31.

In fact, there were several other developments yesterday, most of them pertaining to the two backup infielders the team usually carries. Heading into spring training, that duo was expected to be Frandsen and utility whiz Freddy Galvis. But Galvis is expected to miss at least the first week of the season as he recovers from a MRSA infection that developed last week. The good news is that there is some hope he might not miss much more than that. Galvis, who returned to the Phillies' clubhouse yesterday for the first time since checking into the hospital Thursday night with an infected cut on his left leg, was optimistic about his chances for a quick recovery.

"After they take off the stitches it will be 5 days, then I'll be running and starting baseball stuff," Galvis said. "I think my arm is good, my legs are good, I think my swing will be good. So maybe 2 or 3 weeks" before a return to active duty.

That's a much rosier prognosis than anybody could offer as recently as a few days ago, when the Phillies first learned that Glavis had a MRSA infection.

"They explained to me that if it gets into my joints and muscles, it's bad," Galvis said, "but as long as it is superficial, they can kill it."

Galvis is still on antibiotics, but was able to resume strength and conditioning exercises yesterday. At this point, doctors are simply waiting for the infected wound to heal.

"It could be 2 to 3 weeks, it could be 6 to 8 weeks, we just don't know," Amaro said. "I think a lot depends on how quickly his wounds heal and how quickly he can get into some baseball activities. As far as his infection is concerned, he's not out of the woods, but optimistically he's taken pretty well to the antibiotics so far."

The takeaway is that the Phillies might not be without Galvis for nearly as long as they feared, perhaps removing some of the urgency in their hunt for a backup utility man. They released Ronny Cedeno yesterday, and while fellow veteran Reid Brignac is still in camp, they could attempt to get by with someone like minor leaguer Andres Blanco, who will accompany the team to Philadelphia this weekend for its annual two-game exhibition series at Citizens Bank Park.

"We're still looking inside and outside the organization as far as filling that role," Amaro said. "But we have candidates. We have guys internally and there are some guys we're looking at outside the organization as well."

One of the two backup infield spots seems likely to be filled by Cesar Hernandez, who spent the last 2 months of last season with the team and is regarded as having better speed and a better bat than Galvis. Hernandez, 23, has played almost exclusively at second base since signing with the Phillies as a 16-year-old shortstop, but the Phillies are getting him work at short and third base over the final week of spring training. The Phillies could always keep Hernandez as their only reserve infielder and simply attempt to make do with him at shortstop should Jimmy Rollins injure himself during a game. After the game, obviously, a true shortstop could be signed or called up from Triple A.

"We've gone through seasons with one extra infielder," Amaro said. "We don't necessarily have to have two or three. A lot of it depends. We still have a lot of flexibility. We still created a lot of flexibility with the decisions we can make, particularly with the roster. We may be having to select some guys we didn't necessarily count on our club at the outset. We still think there's competition here. We'll kind of go down to the wire. When March 30 rolls around, we'll get the roster together."


On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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