Free Agent Imports Could Impede Young Phillies

PHILADELPHIA—The Phillies made two late January signings that could affect several of the organization's young players.

Team officials hope free agent import Delmon Young will be recovered from offseason ankle surgery in time to be the everyday right fielder. That would push Domonic Brown over to left, where he will compete for playing time with Darin Ruf, the MVP of the Double-A Eastern League last season. Brown and Ruf could begin the year in a platoon, but both have minor league options remaining.

The signing of veteran reliever Chad Durbin pushes the relief corps to the verge of overcrowded status. Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo and Durbin are assured of spots, leaving room for three more arms in Philadelphia's traditional seven-man bullpen.

Jeremy Horst might have the inside track on one job because he would give the club a second lefty with Bastardo. That still leaves righties Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus, B.J. Rosenberg, Mike Stutes and Michael Schwimer as well as lefties Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes competing for two jobs.

Aumont, De Fratus and Diekman offer the most arm strength, but all three could use more Triple-A time. Still, Aumont might have the inside track if he can throw strikes.

The Phillies deemed Durbin a bargain at $1.1 million, given his track record. He won a World Series with the team in 2008, and his maturity should not be underestimated. for Durbin could mentor the Phillies' young relievers, much as Brad Lidge served in that role for Ryan Madson in 2008. "Durbin gives us a veteran down there and that's good with our young pitching," manager Charlie Manuel said.

Philadelphia has been willing to dip into its minor league depth in recent seasons. Nine of the 17 relievers used by the club in 2012 started the season in the minors.


• To make room for Durbin, the Phillies outrighted righthander J.C. Ramirez to Triple-A after he cleared waivers. Two other remnants of the Cliff Lee trade with the Mariners remain on the 40-man roster: righty Phillippe Aumont and outfielder Tyson Gillies.

• Veteran shortstops Yuniesky Betancourt and Andres Blanco, catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Joe Mather will be in big league camp on minor league deals.