Decision Day Near for Abreu
They must add him to their Opening Day roster or he can ask for his release. Technically, the Phillies don’t have to finalize their 25-man roster until 3 p.m. Sunday, but they essentially need to tell Abreu in good faith whether he is in their plans. If he is, he must be added to the 40-man roster.
“I’ve done everything I could,” Abreu said this morning at Bright House Field. “It’s a decision that’s not in my hands. I just have to go into the field and do my best. That’s it. But I’m not really thinking about it right now. I just have to wait and see what happens.”
Abreu, who will make $800,000 this season if he makes the big leagues, is hitting .257 (9-for-35) with three doubles, one triple, one RBI, nine walks and four strikeouts. He has a .422 on-base percentage and an .822 OPS. That might be enough to make the team, but Abreu has been slowed this week because of a sore left shoulder. He said he tweaked it swinging the bat.
He said he hopes to play tomorrow.
“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “It’s just a little sore.”
But there is much more than offense when it comes to determining Abreu’s future. He has to show some competence in right field to earn a spot. Reviews have not been glowing.
“So far he’s been OK,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Is he a liability out there?
“I wouldn’t say so,” Ryne Sandberg said. “Not in a part-time, spot start.”
Abreu’s chances obviously improve if the Phillies carry a six-man bench to start the season, but that remains to be seen. Here is my best guess on a six-man bench: catcher Wil Nieves; infielders Ronny Cedeno and Cesar Hernandez; outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr., and Abreu. Reid Brignac also is in camp. He could take an infield spot, but I think the Phillies take Cedeno over him because he is a considered a better defensive shortstop. I think they take Hernandez over him because he already is on the 40-man roster, they can option him to Triple-A when Freddy Galvis returns, he is a switch-hitter and he runs well.
If the Phillies carry a five-man bench things might get trickier for Abreu. I think Gwynn is a lock based on his play and versatility. Mayberry, although the Phillies have been trying to trade him for months, is relatively safe because they need a right-handed hitter with power. Darin Ruf would have provided that, but he will miss 4-6 weeks with the strained left oblique.
Stay tuned …