Galvis looks ready to fight for a roster spot

(Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports)

At one point, Freddy Galvis was good enough that the Phillies considered not re-signing Jimmy Rollins following the 2011 season, because Galvis looked near major league ready. As it turned out, the 2012 season turned into a disaster for the young infielder.

Coming into the 2011 season, Freddy Galvis was a 21-year old shortstop who had major league defensive skills, but was always a little short offensively. It was in that season that Galvis would start to turn some heads and provide more offense than he had shown in his minor league career.

Splitting the season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Galvis hit a combined 8-43-.278/.324/.392 and continued to dazzle defensively.

When the 2011 season ended, the Phillies had a decision to make; stay the course and re-sign shortstop Jimmy Rollins or go with Galvis as their everyday shortstop at the major league level. While the Phillies had finally seen the type of offense that they were wanting to see from the young shortstop, it came a little too late and was a little short of the point where they would be willing to hand him the starting shortstop job with the big league club. So, Rollins was re-signed, leaving Galvis to fight for a spot with the big league club.

The 2012 season presented an opportunity for Galvis when Chase Utley reported to camp with balky knees. Galvis was moved to second base and showed that he could handle the position defensively and when the season started, he was the Phillies starting second baseman.

Unfortunately, his increased offense in the minors didn't translate to the majors and by early May, Galvis average had dropped to .189 and he was hearing it from impatient fans. From that low point, Galvis hit .275 over the rest of May and seemed to be turning things around, but a sore back put him on the DL in early June.

Initially, the injury wasn't thought to be too bad, but as time went on, the diagnosis turned into a fractured vertebrae and Galvis was going to miss substantial time. Then, came the announcement that Galvis had tested positive for Closetebol, a banned substance, and he would be suspended for 50 games, with the suspension running concurrent with his time on the DL.

The bottom line was that Galvis missed the rest of the season.

Fast forward to the present-day and Galvis hasn't been mentioned much. With Rollins re-signed, Utley apparently doing better physically and Michael Young signed to play third base, Galvis became an afterthought.

The good news is that Galvis is healthy and playing in the Venezuelan Winter League, where he is hitting .300 (68-for-227) with five home runs in 58 games. Galvis will hopefully be able to spring board off of that performance and come into spring training with a renewed sense of confidence as he battles not for a starting job, but for a utility job with the Phillies.

Winning that spot won't be an easy task. Galvis is going to have to show manager Charlie Manuel that he's versatile enough to play both middle infield positions and perhaps, also play at third base. He's also going to have to show that his winter league offense is no fluke. Plus, Galvis will have to battle the likes of Kevin Frandsen, Andres Blanco and Pete Orr to show that he's the best choice for a utility job.

And even if he does all of that, the Phillies still may not be satisfied and could decide that he's better off playing everyday at Lehigh Valley than he is with occasional at-bats at the big league level.

Galvis is still just 23 and having pretty much lost an entire season in 2012, there is no way to gauge whether the Phillies believe he's in a position to be a strong major league utility player or simply needs at-bats to get himself back to where they thought he was a year ago. Orr and Blanco are both veteran players who can handle utility roles, but both are also signed only to minor league deals. In Frandsen's case, he's all but assured of a utility job with the big league club, based on his performance last season. Galvis might have had that luxury, but all that transpired last season has robbed him of that positioning, leaving him to battle for a roster spot.


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