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Decision on Inciarte's roster spot draws near

Decision on Inciarte's roster spot draws near

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ender Inciarte will have his answer soon enough.

His chances to make the Phillies' Opening Day roster improved Friday, when the Phillies optioned outfielder Darin Ruf to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The move left five healthy outfielders in camp: Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Inciarte.

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The Phillies could make a trade or claim an outfielder off waivers before the season starts April 1 in Atlanta. They also could open the season with just four outfielders and three utility infielders -- Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt -- although general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., said that is unlikely. But if the Phillies can't find a better outfielder elsewhere, they could stick with the 22-year-old Inciarte, who they selected in December's Rule 5 Draft.

"I'm thinking about it a lot and sometimes I feel anxious," Inciarte said Saturday at Bright House Field. "I want to know where I'm going to be this year. I'm kind of waiting for that day to know that answer."

Inciarte, who has never played above Class A in the Minor Leagues, is hitting .238 (5-for-21) with one double, three walks and six strikeouts this spring. But the Phillies would not be keeping him for his bat. They would keep him for his defense and speed. He has been impressive in the outfield, showing good range and a strong arm. And with Delmon Young possibly back from right ankle surgery before May 1, it might not make sense to trade for another outfielder when there may not be a place for him in a month.

"I'm working hard," Inciarte said. "I might have a chance, but they are the ones that make the decision. Right now, I don't know. I don't know where I'm going to be, but I'm going to keep working hard until the end. I'm happy overall. I think I've been showing my tools. I've just got to keep developing a lot of stuff because I'm still young and I feel like I can give a lot to this game."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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