Last Week of Camp Will Answer Key Questions

Opening Day in Pittsburgh is one week away. Most players would like for the season to be starting now. The bus trips criss-crossing Florida are getting old. The fact that the games don't count is getting real old. Still, there is a week to go for the Phillies and still, some things to watch for in the final days of spring training. In fact, even the final two spring games will provide some things to watch for.

1. Where is the Phillies offense? Larry Bowa is talking about his hitters needing to concentrate more on putting together a big week. The Phillies are last in the Grapefruit League in runs scored and while that technically doesn't matter, it's not the sort of thing that Larry Bowa wants to go into the season with.

Bowa has apparently decided on having Placido Polanco hit second since he handled the job well last year. That puts Jimmy Rollins seventh, which Bowa believes will allow him to use his speed a little more than he might be able to hitting ahead of Jim Thome.

Speaking of Thome, he will hit third and Bobby Abreu will hit fifth. That will also let Abreu use his speed a little more than he has been able to hitting third in the lineup. The real key, no matter who hits third and who hits fifth, is that Pat Burrell needs to produce out of the four spot in the lineup. If Burrell stumbles, the lineup shuffle might have to start and Thome and Abreu might wind up hitting back-to-back, allowing teams to use left-handers against them more effectively late in the game.

2. Who gets the last roster spot? Doug Glanville or Chase Utley. It looked like the Phillies might not really need to make a decision when Tomas Perez showed up limping the other day with a sore toe. Now though, news is that Perez is okay and should be back in the lineup within a day or two, so there won't be any help there the way it looks now.

Both Glanville and Utley have had good springs. There is the age old argument about whether a young player is better off playing everyday at AAA or playing part-time in the majors. Utley has done all he's going to do at AAA. Unless the Phillies were going to have him work at third base or first base to learn more positions, than Scranton is just a waste of time. Of course, Utley has already played one season at third and has filled in admirably at first this spring.

Say what you will about Doug Glanville, but he's a decent player who can help on this team. He's had a good spring and is fully accepting of a bench job. It's not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination. Glanville would make the outfield very crowded and not having Utley would stretch the infield a little thin, although not to scary proportions. If David Bell isn't healthy – and all indications are that he is completely healthy – Shawn Wooten can step in to play third base.

Don't be surprised if we see Ricky Ledee a little more this week. The Phillies might want to showcase him a little for other teams to see. Moving Ledee would thin the outfield ranks, making room for Glanville and clear the roster spot needed to carry both Glanville and Utley. Ledee has been hampered by some nagging injuries and it's also not out of the question that he could chill his heels on the DL to start the season. That would just prolong the inevitable though.

3. Who gets the final bullpen spot? The Phillies were kind of lucky to sneak Bud Smith through waivers. They don't want to tempt fate twice and try to get David Coggin through waivers. Ryan Madson has pitched very well, but the smart thing is to keep Coggin and send Madson to AAA to pitch in the starting rotation. As much as we love the Phillies starting rotation, there is always the chance for injuries or even a prolonged slump. To have Madson stretched out and ready to jump in would be a plus for the Phillies.

Coggin has shown that he is healthy and has relearned how to pitch. He doesn't have the hard fastball that he once had, but he's learned how to get along very nicely without it. The Phillies have pushed him this spring and will likely push him the last week of camp to be sure that he is up to the challenge.

Amaury Telemaco seemingly locked up a bullpen job relatively early in camp and Josh Hancock was just sent back to AAA, so the battle is between Coggin and Madson. Again though, don't be surprised if a deal pops up and the Phillies make a move to clear a roster spot. If anyone is to be dealt, Coggin or possibly Telemaco would seem to be the ones going somewhere. Madson is a keeper.

4. Just how ready is Citizens Bank Park? Well, it's definitely in better playing shape than The Vet! The Phillies have been mum on just how much of the park, if any, will have to be closed for the exhibition series with the Cleveland Indians April 3 and 4. All indications are that the place isn't exactly finished, but it's good enough to play ball in and that's the least the Phillies were hoping for. Time will tell, but watch for more updates from the Phillies this week on the status of their new home.

5. How many times will the starting eight start in the same lineup this spring? The over/under is three. Game one with the starting eight came Sunday against Toronto. With Jim Thome and David Bell both missing major parts of the spring, there hasn't been much of a chance to have everybody together. Thome and Bell might play in minor league games a couple times this week where the rules are a little more relaxed and they can get six or seven at bats in a game. In fact, Thome won't leave Friday when the rest of the team departs for Philly. Instead, he and Randy Wolf will both play in a minor league game to get in extra work and then they'll join the rest of the team in Philadelphia in time for Saturday's exhibition. It is likely though that Bowa will have the starting lineup on the field for both games at CBP.

6. Will the Phillies be active on the trade market in the final week of camp? Hard to tell. They've already made two minor moves just over the weekend, getting pitcher Clay Condrey from San Diego and infielder Pablo Ozuna from Detroit. Both are basically just filler material for AAA, although Ozuna might be a replacement for Tomas Perez if anything were to happen to him that would sideline him for any length of time.

Deals with Ledee, Coggin or Telemaco are always possible. In the right situation, the Phillies might deal Jason Michaels, but that's not too likely. If the Phillies do make moves this week, they likely won't be of the major variety. The roster is pretty well set, so it's just time for some fine tuning. Actually, the Phillies making any moves might be more dependent on how badly other teams might need Ledee, Coggin or Telemaco. The Phillies are dealing from a position of strength and won't make moves because they have to.

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