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Phils face tough roster decision with Coghlan

March 25, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Decision day could be Sunday for the Phillies.The front office will meet with manager Pete Mackanin and his coaching staff following a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates at Spectrum Field, where the organization could finalize its 25-man roster ahead of Opening Day, on April 3

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Decision day could be Sunday for the Phillies.
The front office will meet with manager Pete Mackanin and his coaching staff following a Grapefruit League game against the Pirates at Spectrum Field, where the organization could finalize its 25-man roster ahead of Opening Day, on April 3 in Cincinnati. There are three bench jobs and two bullpen jobs available.
Chris Coghlan will be among the players discussed, not only because he is a candidate to make the bench but because he can ask for his release Sunday. If that happens, the Phillies have until Tuesday to place him on the Major League roster.
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"Make the team," Coghlan said about his expectations before Saturday's 3-3 tie with the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
Coghlan, who will make $3 million if he makes the team, plus incentives, is hitting .243 with two doubles, five RBIs, three walks and nine strikeouts in 17 games. He had two sacrifice flies on Saturday, including one that tied the score in the ninth. He has a good shot because he not only can play everywhere in the outfield and some infield, he hits left-handed and has experience playing in a part-time role.
Remove a rough few months early last season with the A's, and Coghlan hit a combined .264 with 26 home runs, 98 RBIs, a .351 on-base percentage and a .794 OPS in 1,063 plate appearances the past three seasons.
But 40-man roster considerations will complicate things.
Coghlan, outfielder Daniel Nava, first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, and catchers Ryan Hanigan and John Holaday all have chances to make the team, but they are all non-roster invitees. The Phillies are highly unlikely to place more than two such candidates on the 25-man roster.
The Phillies might have an easier decision if catcher Andrew Knapp, who is on the 40-man roster, had played better this spring, but he is hitting .152. The Phillies are floating the possibility of opening the season with a four-man bench and an eight-man bullpen, although that certainly is not ideal.
In one scenario, infielder Andres Blanco; outfielder Aaron Altherr; Coghlan, Nava or Stassi; and Hanigan or Holaday make the bench. Then the Phillies can choose among left-handers Joely Rodriguez and Adam Morgan and right-handers Luis Garcia and Alec Asher for three bullpen jobs.
In addition to Coghlan, bench candidates Hanigan and Holaday have out-clause deadlines in the coming days.
"I'm human," said Coghlan when asked if he is thinking about Sunday's deadline. "But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if I sweat it or not. The decision is coming. It's not going to make me crazy. I know what I can do. It's not like this is my first or second year and I'm trying to prove myself. At the end of the day, look at the back of the baseball card. I don't mean that in a pompous, arrogant way at all. I mean that, like, that's my career. It'll give you a pretty good idea about what you're going to get."
Coghlan has enjoyed his time with the Phillies and hopes to stay.
"I love these guys," he said. "I enjoy it because they're hungry. They're good kids. It reminds me of [the Cubs]. Just the hunger and blue-collar kids ready to work. They want to get better, and they realize they haven't made it. That's a great attribute, because they won't get complacent."

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