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Is Rafael Marchan injured? Why hasn't he been catching at all while JT and Stubbs are at the World Baseball Classic?

It is indeed curious that catcher Rafael Marchan has not played in a game in about a week.  He does have six games under his belt this Spring already, most recently last Tuesday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.

There was no indication of an injury on that day, nor have we heard of anything since.  But I suppose that there is a more practical reason here: The Phillies may simply want to see which of the veteran catchers they'll hang onto at Triple-A.  This is important because the Phillies traded two catching prospects since July in Logan O'Hoppe and Donny Sands.

Take for example veteran catcher John Hicks.   Hicks is behind the plate today in Clearwater against the Atlanta Braves.  He's started five times in the last week, in fact.

Hicks is considered an Article XX(B) free agent.  That means the Phillies have to formally decide five days prior to the start of the season if Hicks will be on the roster.  If he does not make the team, they will need to pay him a $100,000 roster retention bonus, or else he can be granted his release.

The other catcher that has gotten some playing time recently, Aramis Garcia, does not have six years' major league service time.  He will not be subject to the decision that they make with Hicks.

The Phillies would love to have a good catching option at Triple-A with Marchan.  Is it worth paying a roster retention bonus?  Is it worth re-signing Hicks to a minor league deal that pays him pretty well to stay?  Would keeping Garcia be easier?

It's a good time to figure that out.  The Phillies probably know what they have in Marchan at this point.  And let's not forget, J.T. Realmuto and Garrett Stubbs will be the two Phillies catchers come Opening Day.

Is Scott Kingery for real this time around?

This is the million dollar question.  Or should I say, "$24 million question?"  But more important than the financial investment that the Phillies have made in Scott Kingery, there has been a different investment made.

Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long worked with Kingery throughout the offseason.

With that in mind, Long would have a good idea as to whether or not he likes what he has seen.  Long has been known for "fixing" some players' swings - like Kyle Schwarber with the Nationals.  Long's assessment of Kingery might go a long way.

But Kingery has been hitting..476 with one home run, a stolen base, and an OPS of 1.161.  That's certainly good on paper.

The Phillies could use Kingery's glove as an option in center field from the right side.  Practically, that helps his case.  Phillies manager Rob Thomson praised his defensive versatility the other day.

If your definition of "for real" means, "Can Kingery make the team as a bench player?" I think he has a real shot.

If Andrew Painter is out all year and Bailey Falter struggles is there another starting pitcher option?

 In an ideal world, the Phillies would have a little extra starting pitching depth.  With Andrew Painter down for at least a sizable amount of time,  It appears that the first opportunity will indeed go to Bailey Falter.  Falter pitched admirably last year in that role.

 Michael Plassmeyer is the next best option.  He has not given up a run just yet this Spring in seven innings.  However, he has walked some, which is a little concerning.

If I'm the Phillies I might look to see what Mike Minor is up to.  Still a free agent, he is a veteran major league starter.  He might not have gotten a deal this offseason on the major league side, but if he's willing to take a minor league deal, there could be some opportunities.

Minor has someone the Phillies have liked in the past.

Otherwise, the Phillies might have to cobble things together until the trade deadline when they can make another deal.

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