Obviously, the Phillies know a little something about Will Venable, who signed a minor league deal with the club on Monday, just one day after being released by the Cleveland Indians. Manager Pete Mackanin likely hasn't seen too much of him in person though to get a real assessment of what type of player he is and how he might fit into Mackanin's plans for the lineup, so it wasn't a surprise that Venable was in the lineup just a few hours after reporting for duty at the Phillies Clearwater Complex.
The outfield situation is in somewhat of a flux right now, with Odubel Herrera, Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel figured on to fill roster spots. With David Lough being reassigned to minor league camp Tuesday, it comes down to Venable and Cedric Hunter battling for a roster spot. What happens between the two comes down to how the Phillies want to set their roster. As things stand now, Andres Blanco would be the only true utility infielder, but Emmanuel Burriss is still hanging around camp and has a shot at making the club. If the team kept both Blanco and Burriss, Darin Ruf, who is slated to platoon at first base with Ryan Howard, could also provide some help at the corner outfield spots when needed, along with either Venable or Hunter.
The 33-year old Venable, the son of former major leaguer Max Venable, split last season between San Diego and Texas, hitting a combined 6/33/.244/.320/.350 in 135 games, most of which came with the Padres. Over eight major league seasons, he's a .251 hitter with 81 home runs, 307 RBI and 135 stolen bases, including 16 from last season. Defensively, he can play all three outfield spots with average to above-average fielding percentages.
For now, the Phillies are non-committal on whether Venable will make the ballclub or start the season at Lehigh Valley, but for his part, Venable is open to whatever the club decides to do.
"Obviously, you want to be in the big leagues, but I understand that I'm showing up with just a couple days left in camp," Venable told Stephen Gross of The Morning Call.