Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Juan Francisco (L)/Chris Johnson (R) 3B*
Reed Johnson (R) OF
Evan Gattis (R) C/OF
Tyler Pastornicky (R) IF
Jordan Schafer (L) OF
The bench may be the one place in spring training where 25-man roster spots are won and lost.
Right now, they're completely up in the air.
Obviously Francisco and the Johnsons are safe, but spots for the fifth outfielder, utility infielder and backup catcher are up for grabs.
Pastornicky will be battling Ramiro Peña for the infield job, and while neither is an especially attractive option, Pastornicky has a little more upside at his younger age and still possesses the skills that won him the shortstop job out of spring training last season. With some experience under his belt, he should be able to take a step forward this year.
The last two spots are where things get very intriguing. Atlanta signed Matt Pagnozzi to be Gerald Laird's backup catcher until Brian McCann returned, but Gattis has turned heads not only during the winter league but spring training as well.
While he hasn't played above Double-A, Gattis is forcing a spot onto the roster, one way or another. Atlanta may very well use Gattis' ability to play catcher to its advantage and use him as Gerald Laird's backup as an excuse to give Gattis major league at-bats.
If Gattis makes the 25-man roster, Atlanta can either use its final roster spot on Pagnozzi (a defensively sound catcher) or a pinch runner (Schafer or Jose Constanza). Currently, Atlanta's bench would be barren of speedsters, so it makes sense to allocate the spot to someone who could make pitchers antsy late in games.
With Constanza, what you see is what you get. He can slap the ball around, steal a base and track down fly balls.
Schafer, though, presents a little bit of upside. A reclamation project, Schafer is a toolsy player with lots of speed and two strikes on him. If he is not on his best behavior this season, Atlanta will have no trouble cutting ties with him for the last time and giving Constanza the final roster spot.
But the waiver claim that gave Schafer one last chance in Atlanta may very well be the one that wins him the final roster spot in 2013. The man is on a mission to prove his doubters wrong, and if his head is truly in the right place, expect Schafer to have a strong spring and break camp with the club.