Phillies Invite Nine to Camp
With word that the Phillies have invited nine players with minor league contracts to spring training in Clearwater comes plenty of familiar names -- and production.
You know the bunch: Michael Martinez, Pete Orr, and Steven Lerud.
One newcomer, though, should be a source of mild optimism.
Josh Fields, 29, hit .322/.392/.488 in 133 games with the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate, leading the club with hits (158) and runs scored (96). He boasts defensive versatility, too; he appeared in five positions defensively for Albuquerque a year ago -- third, first, second, right and left -- committing just eight errors in about 400 chances.
Given the question marks about infielder durability and sustainability -- see: Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen, Freddy Galvis, Chase Utley -- Fields could prove useful.
He was once a top prospect, rated by Baseball America in 2007 No. 45 overall. He's a righty, too, drafted in the first round by Chicago in the 2004 first-year player draft.
In five years in varying capacities, he's averaged .234/.303/.421. He once mashed 23 home runs with 67 RBIs for the Chi Sox, albeit six years ago come April 1, 2013.
Fields' last big-league action, though, came in 2010 with the Royals, for just 13 games. In his career, he's played than 75 games just twice, never more than 100.
The rest have value, of course, just nothing game-changing.
Martinez, 30, has averaged just .188/.241/.272 in two big-league seasons. Still, he too proved versatile. A year ago, he appeared at five different positions: second base (14 games), third base (eight), shortstop (six) -- even right field (four) and center field (two). He committed just two errors overall in 2012, both at third.
Orr, 33, was among the few off-the-bench bright spots for the Phillies in 2012, hitting .315/.327/.444 in 35 games in the majors. Pinch hitters went .206/.270/.290 overall. In his career as a pinch-hitter, Orr has mustered a .272/.298/.354. slash line.
Lerud, 28, made his major league debut in 2012 after injuries to Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider necessitated that the Phillies select his contract for depth. He started just three games, going 2-for-10 at the plate. The team went 3-0 in those games, against the Mets (Aug. 30), Reds (Sept. 3) and Rockies (Sept. 9). In two starts by Tyler Cloyd and one by Kyle Kendrick, Phillies starting pitchers combined for a 3.38 ERA in 18.2 innings with 17 strikeouts in games Lerud caught.
Lerud figures to be duking it out with Humberto Quintero, 33, a career journeyman who made stays last season in Kansas City, Miami and Milwaukee, for a roster spot vacated by Carlos Ruiz's 25-game suspension to start the season.