Charlie Manuel isn't too keen on young players. But there are exceptions — and Freddy Galvis is one of them.
The natural shortstop, who played exceptional second base after a crash course last spring training, is on the bubble this season. Chase Utley's creaky knees are handling the demands of the Grapefruit League. It's a relative given that Kevin Frandsen will be one of the backup infielders. So it's between Galvis and Yuniesky Betancourt for the remaining infield job.
"Freddy is a heck of a player," Manuel said. "Just watch what he can do out there."
No one can blame Manuel for marveling at Galvis, who is a defensive wizard at just 23. The Venezuelan seems considerably older since he's been with the organization since he was 16. He is exceptional in the field, but there have always been questions about his bat. Galvis only hit .224 last season with a wretched .254 on-base percentage.
"That's something that I have to improve," Galvis said. "I need to be more patient at the plate. I know I can hit."
Galvis surprised with his gap power last season. He had 19 extra-base hits in 190 at-bats.
"I have a little pop," Galvis said. "I can drive the ball."
Galvis is hitting .308 with seven extra-base hits in 39 at-bats this spring. It helps if the boss likes you, and Manuel compares Galvis to perennial Gold Glove shortstop Omar Vizquel. Vizquel, also from Venezuela, didn't pick it up with his bat until he was 28.
"I'm confident I can do it all," Galvis said. "I'm trying to do all that I can to learn and play."
Well, if Jimmy Rollins' tenure as shortstop ends at the close of his deal after the 2015 season, Galvis will be just 26 at the start of the following campaign.
"I love being part of the Phillies," Galvis said.
The club is pretty keen on Galvis, too.
Pipeline to Venezuela
The Phillies should drop their flag to half-mast due to the passing of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, or at least gas up at Citgo, since the team has had a number of key players from the communist country.
Manny Trillo, Bobby Abreu, Omar Daal and Ugueth Urbina are some of the Phillies who hail from Venezuela. Of course, not all of them helped the team. Who can forget Freddy Garcia and his one win? Garcia cost the Phillies Gio Gonzalez. On second thought, forget about flying the flag at half-mast.