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Valentin, Knapp in running for final roster spots

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies fly to Philadelphia in exactly three weeks.

Twenty-one days leave plenty of time for players to win jobs. The Phillies have three bench jobs and two bullpen jobs available, barring injury.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies fly to Philadelphia in exactly three weeks.

Twenty-one days leave plenty of time for players to win jobs. The Phillies have three bench jobs and two bullpen jobs available, barring injury.

View Full Game Coverage

The everyday lineup is set with catcher Cameron Rupp, first baseman Tommy Joseph, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop Freddy Galvis, left fielder Howie Kendrick, center fielder Odubel Herrera and right fielder Michael Saunders. Infielder Andres Blanco is a lock for one bench spot. Aaron Altherr looks like the fourth outfielder at this point.

Spring: Tickets | Ballpark | 40-man roster | NRIs

The rotation is set with Jeremy Hellickson, Jerad Eickhoff, Clay Buchholz, Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola. The first five bullpen jobs are locks with Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek and Edubray Ramos.

The status of the 40-man roster will play a critical role in those final jobs. It always does. Teams value depth and roster flexibility, and the Phillies are no different. The club added 11 players to the 40-man roster in November. Catcher Andrew Knapp and infielder Jesmuel Valentin are the only two in that group with a shot at making the Opening Day roster. The others need more seasoning in the Minor Leagues.

That leaves the Phillies with fewer options when they make moves the first couple months of the season. They will compound that problem if they add two or more non-roster invitees to the 40-man roster. That is because the Phillies could lose the players they remove from the 40-man roster, plus the players added might not be optionable, meaning they could lose them at some point, too.

For that reason, it is difficult to imagine the Phillies adding more than two non-roster invitees to the 40-man.

In the case of the bench, that improves the chances for Knapp (1-for-14 with one RBI entering Friday), Valentin (5-for-17 with three RBIs) and outfielder Tyler Goeddel (1-for-13). Outfielder Roman Quinn (5-for-21 with two RBIs) seems to be headed to Triple-A to get regular playing time.

First baseman Brock Stassi (9-for-18 with three homers and 11 RBIs) has had an outstanding spring, but he is a non-roster invitee. Catchers Ryan Hanigan (3-for-7 with one RBI) and Bryan Holaday (2-for-10 with one homer and three RBIs); and outfielders Chris Coghlan (3-for-15 with three RBIs) and Daniel Nava (6-for-15 with one RBI) are non-roster invitees, too.

If Coghlan is not on the Major League roster by March 26, he must be released upon request or placed on the roster within 48 hours. Hanigan has the same stipulation, but it must happen by March 28. Nava must be placed on the 25-man roster by June 15 or he must be released if he has a spot on another team's 25-man roster. It is unclear if Holaday has an out clause in his contract.

In the case of the bullpen, left-handers Joely Rodriguez (one run in 3 1/3 innings) and Adam Morgan (two runs in 6 2/3 innings) and right-hander Alec Asher (six runs in 10 innings) improve their chances because they are on the 40-man roster. Left-handers Sean Burnett (two runs in five innings) and Cesar Ramos (one run in five innings) are non-roster invitees. Burnett can request his release if he is not on the 40-man by March 26 or 28. It is unclear if Ramos has an out clause.

But clearly, those non-roster invitees will have to separate themselves from the pack to warrant a roster spot. They have plenty of time to make it happen.

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

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