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Phillies’ Nick Williams ‘trying to stay positive’ about expected reduction in playing time

The addition of Bryce Harper figures to put the 25-year-old outfielder on the bench.

Nick Williams is likely headed for the bench after the Phillies spent a total of $380 million on corner outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper.
Nick Williams is likely headed for the bench after the Phillies spent a total of $380 million on corner outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s Bryce Harper’s world with the Phillies. Nick Williams will just have to live in it.

There isn’t a Phillies player who stands to be more impacted by Harper’s arrival than Williams, a fellow lefty-hitting corner outfielder. It made sense, then, that manager Gabe Kapler had a lengthy conversation with Williams before batting practice a few days ago to discuss his evolving role on the team.

“We got [Harper] to make the team better,” Williams said Sunday after going 0-for-3 in a 3-3 tie with the Minnesota Twins at Hammond Stadium, a 2½-hour drive from Clearwater, where Harper was going through his first workout with the Phillies. “He’s all All-Star. He’s an unbelievable talent. It’s something I can’t control, so it’s not something that I’m really right now worried about.”

The Phillies spent a total of $380 million on Andrew McCutchen and Harper to play left and right field, respectively. Barring a protracted injury to another outfielder — and center fielders Odubel Herrera (hamstring) and Roman Quinn (oblique) are nursing spring-training injuries — Williams appears to be the odd-man out after batting .256 with 17 homers and a .749 on-base plus slugging percentage in 447 plate appearances last season.

Kapler told Williams and many other young Phillies outfielders that there will be opportunities to get at-bats off the bench or possibly even in center field.

Williams excelled as a pinch hitter early last season before taking over as the primary right fielder. He went 10-for-28 (.357) with a double and three homers off the bench, a role that he said allowed him to simplify his plate approach.

“I think no matter what role I do, I’m a hitter and hitters get hits,” Williams said. “I don’t even remember what I hit pinch-hitting. I’m just trying to stay positive, just work my butt off for whatever ABs I can get.”

» READ MORE: John Middleton gets his Steinbrenner moment

There’s always a chance that Williams could get traded, too. A 25-year-old with power and five years of club control before he’s eligible for free agency figures to be an attractive commodity for many teams.

Williams has been traded before. The Texas Rangers dealt him to the Phillies as part of the package for Cole Hamels at the trade deadline in 2015.

“If that happens, it does,” Williams said. “It’s not something I’m thinking about right now because I’m trying to play for this group of guys in the locker room. But if it happens, there’s no hard feelings. It’s a business.”

Extra bases

Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto both went 1 for 3. … Victor Arano, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen, gave up three runs in the fifth inning. He walked one batter, hit another with a pitch, and gave up two hits, including Jonathan Schoop’s two-run homer. … Veteran infielder Andrew Romine, in camp on a minor-league contract, hit a two-run homer off Twins ace Jose Berrios in the third inning. … The Phillies are idle Monday, the first of two spring-training off-days. Aaron Nola will make his spring debut Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals at Spectrum Field.