CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies created a little more intrigue to their bench jobs battle Tuesday.
They announced they had released infielder Ronny Cedeno, who seemed like the leading internal candidate to take Freddy Galvis' spot on the 25-man roster while he recovers from MRSA. The Phillies had until Tuesday to place Cedeno on the 25-man roster, pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to play in Triple-A or release him.
The move indicates the Phillies believe they have a better option elsewhere.
"We're still looking inside and outside the organization as far as filling that role," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "But we have candidates. We have guys internally and there are some guys we're looking at outside the organization as well."
Reid Brignac and Cesar Hernandez remain the only utility infielders in big-league camp, but Brignac is not necessarily regarded as a glove guy, although Rays manager Joe Maddon praised his defense in the past, and Hernandez hasn't played shortstop since he was 17 in 2007. Infielder Kevin Frandsen also opted for free agency Tuesday after the Phillies outrighted him Sunday, which hurts their overall depth. The Phillies said he still had a chance to make the team, although he would not have filled the bill as a defensive shortstop.
Infielder Andres Blanco is in Minor League camp. The Phillies love his glove, and there is a chance he heads to Philadelphia with the team this week for their exhibition series against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. He has battled a groin issue recently, although he played five innings Tuesday in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex.
"He is solid defensively," Amaro said. "He's always been a solid defender."
Cesar Izturis opted out of his contract Monday with Houston. He could make sense, depending on the price. Galvis said he believes he could be game-ready by the middle of next month, so it might not make sense to invest too much money into a short-term solution.
"It could be 2-3 weeks, it could be 6-8 weeks," Amaro said about Galvis. "We just don't know. I think a lot depends on how quickly his wounds heal and how quickly he can get into some baseball activities. As far as his infection is concerned he's not out of the woods, but optimistically he's taken pretty well to the antibiotics."
There could be players available in a trade, too.
The Phillies seem likely to carry a six-man bench into the season because they do not need a fifth starter until April 13. Catcher Wil Nieves is a lock. Outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and John Mayberry Jr. are safe bets. Bobby Abreu has a good chance to make the team, although he has not played in the field recently because of a sore left shoulder.
Amaro said the Phillies and Abreu mutually agreed to extend his opt-out date to Sunday, when Opening Day rosters must be finalized. The Phillies originally had until Wednesday to make a decision on Abreu. They either had to place him on the 25-man roster or grant him his release, if requested.
Hernandez is a good bet to make the team as the second utility infielder because he is a switch-hitter who swings a good bat and can run well.
That leaves the sixth spot for somebody like Blanco, Izturis, Brignac or somebody else.
The Phillies have until 3 p.m. Sunday to finalize their Opening Day roster.
"We still have a lot of flexibility," Amaro said. "We may be having to select some guys we didn't necessarily count on our club at the outset. We still think there's competition here. We'll kind of go down to the wire."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less