ATLANTA -- The past several weeks have been an excellent opportunity for rookies -- like Darin Ruf, Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez and Cameron Rupp, among others -- to get experience and get comfortable in the big leagues.
But when the Phillies open Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla., in less than five months, they better be ready.
"I would say there's going to be a lot of decisions to be made and a lot of competition in Spring Training for jobs," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said this weekend at Turner Field. "We'll see what happens over the offseason. My advice for guys is: Be ready for what opportunities are there in the spring. From Day 1 in Clearwater, be in shape and ready to go to win a job."
There are plenty of possibilities for jobs next season.
Asche is the heavy favorite for the third baseman's job, despite a late-season slump, while it seems the Phillies will look outside the organization for an everyday right fielder to complement Domonic Brown in left and Ben Revere in center.
Ruf figures to compete for a bench job as a first baseman/outfielder because the Phillies desperately need to improve their outfield defense, which has been a glaring weakness. Freddy Galvis appears to be the leading candidate for one of the utility infielder jobs.
"Freddy Galvis is a Major League defender," Sandberg said. "I've seen some improvements on some good at-bats. I think he's done a nice job for himself and made a nice showing."
Sandberg has had Hernandez, who had a career-high four hits Saturday, hit leadoff the entire month of September. He can play second base and center field, and he plans to get a few looks in left field and possibly third base in winter ball to make him more versatile.
"A little added versatility, that would be a plus for him," Sandberg said. "He has a knack for swinging the bat. He has good hands. He hits the fastball."
Rupp could compete for the backup catcher's job. Sandberg has been impressed with the way he handles himself behind the plate.
"I thought Cameron Rupp was outstanding behind the plate," Sandberg said of Rupp's Saturday performance. "He must have had 20-something blocks, real good technique with all of them. He swung a big bat. He had a big two-out single to drive in the first two runs. He's an interesting guy. Strong arm. He's made a nice showing. I think he comes to Spring Training and competes for the job from what I've seen. He has good tools. He does a real nice job with the staff. He receives real well. The guys he is doing it with are top-notch guys. I think he competes next year."
Of course, these things depend on the other moves the Phillies make in the offseason. They have 10 players eligible for salary arbitration: left-handers John Lannan and Antonio Bastardo ; right-handers Kyle Kendrick and Zach Miner ; infielders Kevin Frandsen and Pete Orr ; outfielders Revere, Roger Bernadina, John Mayberry Jr., and Casper Wells.
Kendrick, Bastardo and Revere are locks. Frandsen is a near lock.
The rest are likely to be non-tendered.
There will certainly be jobs available on the pitching staff, too. Many of them have gotten good looks since Sandberg took charge in August, including Ethan Martin, who started Saturday because Roy Halladay could not pitch. Martin allowed four hits, one run, one walk and struck out two in three innings. He could be used in the bullpen.
Right-hander Luis Garcia followed with two scoreless innings. The Phillies like his arm a lot. Mike Stutes pitched a scoreless sixth and Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless seventh. Diekman is the best bet of any young Phillies reliever to earn a bullpen job.
B.J. Rosenberg pitched a scoreless eighth.
Asche exits finale in first after taking throw off chin
ATLANTA -- Phillies third baseman Cody Asche left Sunday's 12-5 loss to the Braves in the first inning when a throw from left fielder Domonic Brown gashed him in the face, causing him to bleed profusely.
Asche received seven stitches, and Freddy Galvis replaced him at third base.
"It definitely wasn't an ideal way to go into the offseason, but baseball will do that to you," he said. "I have a nice scar to remind me of my first last game [of a season] in the big leagues. It hit me and I was kind of stunned, then I saw [Justin] Upton running to second, so I picked it up and threw it right away. Then after I touched it and it was kind of slippery, I thought, 'That doesn't feel right.' I looked down, and I had blood on my pants and everything."
Asche, 23, hit .235 with eight doubles, one triple, five home runs and 22 RBIs in 162 at-bats, but finished in a 2-for-31 slump. He is the favorite to be the team's Opening Day third baseman next season.
"I'm very grateful to have this experience, for sure," he said. "Not many guys get this opportunity to play every day and learn on the fly. I consider myself lucky to have that opportunity. I think I've learned a lot from it and it will help me moving forward in my career."
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Asche probably tired down the stretch as he played the most baseball he has played in his career.
"I'm not ever one to try to make an excuse for myself," Asche said. "Whether you want to admit it or not, baseball will do this to you. It happens to the best of them. It's something you have to learn from. It's character-building. I think the 50 or so games I was here reassured the confidence that I have in myself, that I can be an everyday player and part of a winning team."
Amaro plans to start offseason with staff decisions
ATLANTA -- The offseason for the Phillies begins Monday, and they have a long list of things they need to do.
But first things first.
"Our first order of business is our coaching staff," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We have some quality people here. I'm talking to Ryne [Sandberg] about it. I'm talking to my own staff about what's best and how we can best support him. That's probably the first thing."
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has been with the Phillies for nine seasons. Catching coach Mick Billmeyer has been on the big league staff in different capacities since 2004. Hitting coaches Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner, and bullpen coach Rod Nichols joined the coaching staff this year. Third-base coach Juan Samuel has been with the team the past three seasons.
Phils reinstate Bastardo, move Kendrick to 60-day DL
ATLANTA -- The Phillies reinstated left-hander Antonio Bastardo from the restricted list before Sunday's season finale. They placed right-hander Kyle Kendrick on the 60-day disabled list to make room for him on the 40-man roster.
Bastardo served a 50-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance. Before his suspension, he went 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 48 appearances. He was not with the team in Atlanta.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.