Phils' third-base job will go down to the wire

March 31st, 2022

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It is a little weird, Phillies manager Joe Girardi said, that Triple-A Lehigh Valley's roster will fly north on Friday to open its season on Tuesday, while the Phillies remain in Florida through Wednesday.

Typically, the Phillies finish Spring Training before their Minor Leaguers.

The lockout changed that. Baseball pushed back Opening Day a week, while the Minor League schedule remained unchanged. Asked if this means the Phillies will have their roster settled before the IronPigs leave town, Girardi said, “No, we still have competitions going.”

There is no competition more intriguing right now than third base. Bryson Stott started at third for the second consecutive game and the third time in five days in Thursday’s 5-3 victory over the Yankees at BayCare Ballpark. He went 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored. Stott, who is the organization’s No. 1 prospect, is batting .550 (11-for-20) with one home run, two doubles, three RBIs, five walks and four strikeouts this spring. Alec Bohm, who entered camp as the favorite for the job, replaced Stott in the sixth inning. He singled in his only plate appearances. Bohm is batting .136 (4-for-22) with one double, one RBI, three walks and three strikeouts.

Bohm is expected to start at third on Friday against the Orioles in Sarasota. Stott could start at second.

Bohm has spent much of the past two days getting at-bats against Phillies prospects at Carpenter Complex. It is not unusual for a big leaguer to steal a few at-bats there in the spring, but Bohm’s presence is noteworthy because he has been struggling.

“Him and [hitting coach Kevin Long] have been working on a little adjustment in his stride,” Girardi said. “It’s starting to come, right? And it takes time to make adjustments when you’ve done something year after year after year. And we didn’t have a lot of time to work necessarily before we got to camp, so that’s why he’s taking a lot of at-bats. And we think it’s going to translate, and we believe it’s going to translate big. Just not exactly sure when that time is going to be, but he’s getting closer.”

Is there enough time left to make Bohm the Opening Day third baseman on April 8? It is fair to ask with Stott’s late entry into the competition and the fact that just last week Johan Camargo seemed to have a real chance at the job, too.

Asked if the Phillies are still evaluating the situation at third or if they are simply getting ready for the season, Girardi said, “We’re doing both. Is it possible that [Stott] plays there? Absolutely. So we’re giving him more looks.”

Girardi then floated a scenario in which both Stott and Bohm make the team.

“[Bohm] needs to play if he’s going to be on the team,” Girardi said. “Could you have them both and give them enough at-bats? I really believe so. The thing about Alec is that he can play third and first. The thing about Stott is he can play second, short and third. Especially early on in the year, you’re not going to be running guys out there seven days in a row. You’re not. They haven’t played enough in Spring Training to be able to do that. A couple days here, a couple days there, I think you can give everybody enough at-bats. They may not get 600 [plate appearances], but I think you can spread the at-bats around.

“Now, I’m not saying that’s what will happen.”

The Phillies have a few more days to decide that.