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Phils' cuts put Knapp in line for backup catcher

March 27, 2017

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Expect to see Andrew Knapp in a Phillies uniform on Opening Day.The Phillies announced Monday afternoon that catchers Ryan Hanigan and John Holaday have been released, making Knapp the team's backup catcher. Hanigan and Holaday would have been able to request their release if they were not

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Expect to see Andrew Knapp in a Phillies uniform on Opening Day.
The Phillies announced Monday afternoon that catchers Ryan Hanigan and John Holaday have been released, making Knapp the team's backup catcher. Hanigan and Holaday would have been able to request their release if they were not placed on the 40-man roster this week, although it is unclear if they exercised that right.
Either way, Cameron Rupp and Knapp are the only remaining catchers in camp.
"It would be a dream come true," Knapp said, knowing his spot on the team is not official. "Everyone hopes to get called up at some point, but to make a team out of Opening Day is pretty special, and it would be the best moment in my career so far."
"It's pretty obvious he seems to be the guy," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "No secret plans or anything like that."
Three of the Phillies' five bench jobs are set, unless there is an injury or trade before Opening Day on Monday in Cincinnati: infielder Andres Blanco, outfielder Aaron Altherr and Knapp. Outfielder Chris Coghlan is expected to make the team as a fifth outfielder. The Phillies must officially place him on the roster by Tuesday.
Infielder Jesmuel Valentin and non-roster invitees Daniel Nava and Brock Stassi are the remaining candidates for the fifth and final bench job. Nava or Stassi seem like the favorites. The Phillies view Valentin as a prospect, so he might be better served playing every day at second base with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies have two bullpen jobs remaining. Left-hander Adam Morgan is a favorite for one. Left-hander Joely Rodriguez and right-handers Alec Asher and Luis Garcia are competing for the final spot.
Mackanin said he hopes to finalize the 25-man roster before the end of the week.
The Phillies must remove two players from the 40-man roster if they put Coghlan on the roster along with Stassi or Nava. Possibilities include outfielder Tyler Goeddel and Garcia.

Knapp (.600 OPS in 38 at-bats) struggled much of the spring but has played better lately. He certainly benefited from the fact he already is on the 40-man roster, while Hanigan (.983 OPS in 18 at-bats) and Holaday (.769 OPS in 34 at-bats) were non-roster invitees.
Knapp thinks he can perform and continue to develop in a reserve role.
"It's going be new for me," he said. "There are a lot of guys on this team that have played that role and can shed some wisdom with me. In winter ball this year I was playing every other day and sometimes not even that, so I got a little bit of experience doing it down there, coming off the bench, pinch-hitting, stuff like that. So that was good."
Mackanin has said since late last season that he preferred a veteran backup catcher, but he said Monday that Knapp can handle the job.
"It is somewhat of an issue, but we think that Knapp is a very intelligent young man that he's capable of figuring it out," he said.
The Phillies also optioned outfielder Roman Quinn and reassigned right-hander Michael Mariot to Minor League camp. The Phillies want Quinn to play every day, which would not happen in the big leagues with Howie Kendrick, Odubel Herrera and Michael Saunders set in the outfield.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.