Shane Victorino’s infield dribbler in the 10th inning scored Peter Bergeron from third as the Phillies came back to beat the Astros 4-3 this afternoon in Clearwater. The Phillies improved to 4-0 in Grapefruit League play. (Photos courtesy of Billy Mac)
Bergeron led off the inning with a walk and was moved along to second by a bunt from Matt Kata. Danny Sandoval’s groundout moved Bergeron to third. Bergeron came in to score when Victorino’s dribbler was bobbled by the third baseman.
Billy Mac, reporting from Clearwater, had this to say: "Two players that impressed me were Chris Roberson and Chris Coste. Chris Roberson with a homer and showing his strong accurate arm with double play in 10th. Chris Coste continued his clutch hitting with a game-tying hit in the 9th."
Beerleaguer take: Bench candidates on display
The Phillies are in good shape this spring to fill out their bench with all-purpose talent. It’s shaping up to be a much different look than what Jose Offerman, Jason Michaels, Tomas Perez, Marlon Byrd and Todd Pratt had to offer last season.
Chris Coste (pictured right), a right-handed hitter who’s only a year younger than David Bell and has never been out of the minor leagues, can play multiple positions, including first, third and emergency catcher. Would Coste be a horrible option at first against a tough left-hander? Hard to say, but his 20 homers last season in Triple-A and hot start here could force Manuel to consider it.
Chris Roberson has good pop in outfield and can provide speed off the bench. At 26, it looks like he’s ready, and had a brilliant winter in Mexico to follow a superb year in Reading.
Matt Kata, a hustling throwback-type switch hitter acquired in the Tim Worrell deal last year, can handle every infield position fairly well and seems to excel at providing the little things on offense. This offseason, GM Pat Gillick called him a darkhorse favorite to make the club, and of the three, is probably the biggest favorite to stick. He's only 4-13 so far, but he's had the kind of ABs and plays in the field that will stick in the manager's mind.
The competition must be intense for about a dozen pitchers and position players all with legitimate chances, and so far, that pressure has paid off into a 4-0 start. Even Victorino – an early lock for the fourth outfielder spot – should probably watch his back. And the pressure put on Tomas Perez goes without saying.
With Bell’s future uncertain, there may be room for players like Coste, Kata and Roberson, especially if the Phils open with 11 pitchers. All three are getting a good look here in the early going and making the most of their chances.