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Klentak on closer competition, Tommy Joseph, Andrew Knapp

philsGeneral Manager Matt Klentak told reporters Tuesday there’s likely to be a competition to sort out the bullpen.

As of now the ‘pen includes 2016 holdovers Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez and Edubray Ramos, plus newcomers Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit. Neris, Gomez and Benoit are likely to compete for the closer role, with other jobs to fall in place from there. The Phils will also bring left-handers Joely Rodriguez and David Rollins to camp, which will likely spur a LOOGY competition. There could be more additions (or subtractions), but right now, it seems six of the seven bullpen jobs are nearly sewn in place.

Don’t be shocked if one of the above names isn’t on the roster by spring training. Add in the likelihood of an injury to any of these pitchers, and the Phils should still be seeking potential mid- and late-innings options. Plus, internal candidates Severino Gonzalez and Luis Garcia are still rostered, and longshot Alberto Tirado may even get a spring invite.

Either way, the Phils bullpen on paper looks much better than it did to end 2016.

SURE CAN HIT BASEBALL: Klentak also told reporters Tuesday that Tommy Joseph is the Phils’ everyday first baseman, barring any offseason moves.

Which is obvious. There’s no other first baseman on the roster (unless you move Maikel Franco to first base … but then there’s no other third baseman on the roster …)

Anyway, the Phillies don’t need to upgrade at first. Give Joseph a full season to prove himself a starter, and if he’s not, first base is one of the last positions teams can address.

TAKE A KNAPP?: Oh, and Klentak said it’s possible Andrew Knapp starts the season in the majors as the Phils’ backup catcher.

Again, makes sense. Knapp – who’s 25 and hit .266/.330/.390 last year in Lehigh Valley – is pretty much fleshed out as a hitter but can use further seasoning behind the plate. That said, Jorge Alfaro is likely to see the bulk of backstop time in Lehigh Valley in 2017. So why not give Knapp a promotion so he can work with Cameron Rupp and the existing pitching talent?

The point is Klentak won’t add a veteran catcher just to add a veteran catcher. Rupp is basically a veteran, and the idea of an older dude to play dad and catch every four days isn’t necessary on every team.

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