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Phillies make key roster decisions heading into final weekend of spring training

The Phillies are putting the finishing touches on their 26-man roster as spring training comes to a close.

Spencer Howard will start the 2021 season at the alternate site. (Cheryl Pursell)

The team informed outfielder Matt Joyce and right-handed pitcher Brandon Kintzler, both non-roster invitees, that they will be making the Opening Day roster. Left-handed pitcher Tony Watson, also a non-roster invitee, was granted his release.

“We thought Tony had a pretty good camp,” Girardi said. “I don’t think by any means he’s done pitching in the big leagues. We just thought that some of the guys that we have, some of the guys that get lefties out well and wanting some flexibility in our bullpen that it was the right move to make.”

Spencer Howard, who dealt with back issues earlier in camp, will start the regular season at the alternate site in Lehigh Valley as he was optioned to minor-league camp on Friday.

“Our thought process is he’s thrown three-innings in a big league spring training game,” Girardi said. “We don’t want him to rush and try to do too much too early. We feel like a lot of these guys have had four or five outings and he’s just not there yet, so we chose to be a little more on the conservative side since he’s young and to make sure that when he comes up, he’s ready.”

Additionally, Simon Muzziotti, an outfield prospect who is on the 40-man roster, has been placed on the restricted list. Muzziotti has yet to appear in a big-league spring training game due to ongoing visa issues.

With Muzziotti temporarily off the 40-man roster, the Phillies only have to clear one roster spot for one of either Joyce or Kintzler. The center field battle will come down to the final days of camp. Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin features Scott Kingery in center field batting eighth. The team could have to clear a third spot if they opt to add Odúbel Herrera back to the 40-man roster.

As of Friday, the bullpen isn’t completely solidified, but it’s clear that JoJo Romero is a lock to make the roster. If the Phillies are going with two left-handers, Jose Alvarado will most likely not be the team’s designated closer as he’ll probably be used in lefty-on-lefty matchups in high leverage situations.

According to Girardi, Romero, David Hale, Sam Coonrod and Vince Velasquez are competing for the final three spots in the bullpen. With Romero a virtual lock, it’s important to keep in mind that out of the trio of Hale, Coonrod and Velasquez, Coonrod is the only player with minor-league options remaining.


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