So it might just come down to numbers.
"This is the closest I've been," Coste said. "Even though it's still unclear, the one positive note is that I'm on the map. If I don't make the team, it will be disappointing, but for the first time in my career, I know
there'll be a shot during the season."
That shot might come Opening Day, should Coste beat out Tomas Perez and Chris Roberson for the final roster spot. Coste's chances will increase if third baseman David Bell lands on the disabled list.
The equation also changes if the Phillies make a trade or claim a player off waivers.
"It's a possibility -- not a probability, but a possibility," general manager Pat Gillick said about a potential move.
Manager Charlie Manuel deals in absolutes and is prepared to select the 13 best position players from the group he has in camp. He acknowledged having some tough decisions, and he understands Coste is the sentimental favorite.
But sentimental favorites still have to hit, and Coste has shown an ability to hit Major League pitching. This week alone, he doubled off Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett.
"If he can hit a 95-mph fastball in rookie ball, he can hit a 95-mph fastball in heaven," Manuel said. "The old saying is, 'If you can hit, you can hit.' He's a much better player than people realize. He's 33 years old and has been in the Minor Leagues for a long time. Don't ever let that be a mark against you. That doesn't mean he can't play in the big leagues."
Coste is praying for the chance.
"I've wanted to be a baseball player since I saw my first game when I was 5," Coste said. "I like having a uniform on my back."
Randy Wolf becomes a lonely guy on Friday, when he'll punch in for work in a mostly empty clubhouse.
"Tomorrow is going to be a weird day, and it will be that way for a while," he said. "I'm going to have mornings, and these guys are going to have night games."
While his teammates head to Philadelphia for two On-Deck Series games against the Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday -- then begin the regular season on Monday against the Cardinals -- Wolf will continue his single-minded goal of joining the team in July.
He'll keep throwing off a mound three times a week and he hopes to throw batting practice by the middle of May. If things go right, Wolf could start a rehab assignment in June.
"I feel like I'm on schedule," he said. "That's all I can do. I know so far, everything has gone perfectly -- [I] knock on wood every day. Every bridge has dangers, but I take comfort in knowing that I've done well so far.
"I'm not rushing it. If things continue on the path, it's possible. I'm not setting a date, because I don't want to put myself in a corner. I want to do it right, make sure my body's ready. When I come back, I want to be able to
help the team, and not just be there."
"People sold us short last year, and I think we're stronger this year. I have another year under my belt and know more than I did last year." -- Brett Myers
Bell went 0-for-3 in seven innings on Thursday. After playing in a Minor League game on Friday, he'll rejoin the team in Philadelphia. It is still uncertain as to whether he'll be placed on the DL. ... The Phils are one win from tying their Spring Training record of 18, set in 1995. ... The bullpen's consecutive scoreless inning streak was snapped at 15 innings. ... Philadelphia and Boston have agreed to use the designated hitter in the On-Deck Series games at Citizens Bank Park.
Coming up: Cory Lidle will pitch in a Minor League game in Clearwater on Friday, while the rest of his teammates head to Philadelphia. Gavin Floyd, who earned a rotation spot with a strong Spring Training, will start Saturday against Boston at 1:05 p.m. ET.