CLEARWATER, Fla. — In a way, Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius and manager Joe Girardi are in a similar situation. Both need to prove themselves this season — Girardi, to show the Phillies that he deserves an extension into 2023, and Gregorius to show the Phillies that he deserves the starting shortstop job over 24-year-old prospect Bryson Stott, and to boost his value heading into free agency.

Girardi knows his future with the Phillies depends on his job performance, and says Gregorius does, too.

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“It’s a production-based business,” Girardi said. “And there’s always people trying to take your job. That’s how it goes. And there are young kids coming up trying to push you out. But Didi is a competitor. He’s a fighter. He’s going to fight.”

Girardi added: “You have to remember, this is a kid that had to walk into Yankee Stadium after Derek Jeter, and he responded well. So I think he’ll take this challenge and fight like crazy.”

Gregorius, 32, is coming off the worst season of his career. In 103 games last season, he hit .209/.270/.370. He struggled to make hard contact, posting a hard-hit rate (26.6%) that fell within the bottom 4% of the league. He wasn’t any better on defense, posting a -10 defensive runs saved (DRS) in 2021 (down from -2 DRS in 2020), which ranked second to last on the Phillies roster.

Nevertheless, Girardi told the media on Sunday he expects there to be a competition between Gregorius and Stott throughout spring training.

“We’re going to look at them both,” he said. “Didi has a track record, and I think Didi really has a chance of bouncing back and really having a big year, because I’ve seen him do it year after year. But Bryson Stott, we’re going to take a look at him. He had an unbelievable year last year, and he continued it in the fall league. He seems to be in a good place. It’s going to be an evaluation.”

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Stott was told by Dave Dombrowski last year to come into spring training with the mindset of competing for the Phillies’ shortstop job, and he has taken the president of baseball operations’ words to heart. Coming off a minor league season that saw him rise from high A to triple A, slashing .299/.390/.486 with 16 home runs through 112 games, Stott tore up the Arizona Fall League, hitting .318/.445/.489 in 119 plate appearances.

Stott said he went into the fall league with the goal of lowering his strikeout rate and increasing his walk rate. By laying off first pitches, he was able to do just that: In 26 games, the Phillies prospect walked 24 times, and struck out only 14 times.

“I swing at the first pitch a lot,” he said in mid-February. “Obviously, if it’s my pitch, I want to swing at it. I wasn’t being passive or anything like that. But if I knew I couldn’t hit it, I wouldn’t swing. Obviously I’m human, I’m going to swing at things I probably shouldn’t be swinging at. That was a big thing for me.”

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While Stott has yet to play a big-league inning, it’s clear that he’s an intelligent hitter with a big-league mindset. When asked last month if he was ready to compete for the starting shortstop job, he answered, “Yeah, absolutely.”

Extra bases

  • In a media availability with reporters on Sunday, Dombrowski was asked whether the Phillies are in the market for two outfielders. He said they are, but they have contemplated using a platoon at one of those positions, adding that they like Matt Vierling as a possibility to fill a platoon role. Dombrowski said while Vierling can play either center or left field, he prefers him in center. The Phillies believe he can play center field on a regular basis.

  • Dombrowski said since the transaction freeze has been lifted, the Phillies have been in touch with all of MLB’s clubs. When asked whether certain prospects are unmovable, he said there are some but declined to specify who. He walked back his words a bit, adding that depending on the offer, no one is completely unmovable, but said the Phillies front office definitely has prospects it doesn’t want to trade.

  • Dombrowski said the reason Ranger Suárez is delayed is because he doesn’t have his passport. He has his visa but is waiting for his passport to be returned, and until he has that, he can’t get back into the country. The Phillies anticipate he’ll return in a couple of days.

  • First baseman Rhys Hoskins, who underwent season-ending surgery for an abdominal tear last year, is “doing great,” Dombrowski said.

  • When asked about whether the Phillies plan to stay under the new luxury tax threshold — which is now set at $230 million under the new collective bargaining agreement — Dombrowski declined to specify the team’s budget. He did add that he does not feel restricted at all.