On Thursday, Darin Ruf strained an oblique taking batting practice and will likely be off the Phillies' Opening Day roster because of it. On Friday, another bench candidate, Freddy Galvis, was hospitalized with a staph infection in his right leg.
This re-shapes the Phillies' bench, at least for April. Ruf wasn't a lock to make the team by any stretch because of the presence of John Mayberry, Jr. and Bobby Abreu, but now it's likely Ruf opens the season on the DL. Oblique injuries take several weeks to recover from, and players generally need time off before even attempting to swing, which could re-injure the area because of twisting.
Galvis was the frontrunner for the Phils' utility infield job. No timetable was given for his return, and as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported, Galvis could also open the season on the DL.
If that's the case, the Phils could turn to Reid Brignac or Ronny Cedeno, two veteran infielders signed to minor-league deals over the winter. Brignac is 6-for-15 this spring with three doubles, two walks and two RBIs and Cedeno is 4-for-15 with two doubles, two walks and three RBIs. Neither is known for offense, but the role will be about defense anyway.
If the Phils go with a five-man bench to start the season, you could be looking at Mayberry, Abreu, backup catcher Wil Nieves, Kevin Frandsen, and either Brignac or Cedeno. Very little power on that bench.
Don't sleep on Tony Gwynn, Jr., either. Ryne Sandberg has raved about him this spring because of his defensive ability in center field and his penchant for getting on base. Gwynn is 9-for-26 (.346) this spring with six walks and two steals. He's a better defender in center than Mayberry, who was looking more and more redundant before the Ruf injury.
Gwynn is 31 and hasn't played in the majors since 2012. He's a career .244/.312/.318 hitter in nearly 1,700 major-league plate appearances with the Brewers, Dodgers and Padres. He's stolen 77 bases in 103 tries, a 74.5 percent success rate.