CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Tyler Goeddel should be accustomed to the lack of playing time at this point.
But he went 1-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs in Tuesday afternoon's 9-0 victory over the Braves in a Grapefruit League game at Spectrum Field. Goeddel has just 20 at-bats this spring, the fewest of any outfielder that has been in camp other than Odubel Herrera, who is playing with Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
"We've seen Tyler before," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin explained.
Goeddel made the team last year as a Rule 5 Draft pick, but this year it's hard to know where he fits. He is on the 40-man roster, which makes him a consideration for a bench job. But the Phillies also have non-roster invitees Chris Coghlan and Daniel Nava in camp. In Triple-A, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens are the projected everyday outfielders.
"I know there are a lot of guys in there fighting for just a couple spots," Goeddel said of the Opening Day roster. "They're going to have some tough decisions to make."
Goeddel hit .192 (41-for-213) with three doubles, three triples, four home runs, 16 RBIs and a .549 OPS in 92 games last season. But in a 24-game stretch from May 4 through June 3, he hit .288 (23-for-80) with two doubles, three triples, three home runs, nine RBIs and an .837 OPS. His strikeout rate dropped to 11.4 percent in May, when he played regularly. He struck out in 27.7 percent of his remaining plate appearances.
To put that into perspective, Ryan Howard struck out in 31.5 percent of the time last year.
"I need to do a better job of cutting down my strikeouts, if I'm not playing a lot," Goeddel said. "I need to work on that, but it's definitely easier to get in a rhythm the more you're out there."
Goeddel showed that rhythm in May, but then he vanished.
Cody Asche returned from the disabled list in June and the Phillies wanted him to play, which made sense because they needed to give him a final shot to prove himself. Aaron Altherr returned from the DL in July and the Phillies wanted him to play, which made sense because Altherr entered the spring as a projected Opening Day starter.
Quinn joined the team in September and he started 14 times because he is one of the Phillies' top prospects. Peter Bourjos started 84 games, which made sense because he is one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.
But then Goeddel also sat on the bench in nine games that Jimmy Paredes started the final two months of the season, including the season's final three games. Paredes (.591 OPS in 150 plate appearances) had no future with the team.
"I never dealt with that until last season," Goeddel said about the lack of playing time. "But you learn from everything. To be in the big leagues you have to embrace whatever role you have. If I'm in that role again, I'll do the best I can and continue to work at it."
"Because he's on the 40-man roster he's in the mix," Mackanin said. "We've got so many decisions to make for a couple of spots. It's going to be tough. It's going to take the rest of the spring for us to really zero in on a couple of guys. It's going to be interesting the rest of the way."