TAMPA, Fla. - When Jimmy Rollins signed a four-year deal to secure his hold on shortstop for the Phillies, Freddy Galvis was in Venezuela playing winter ball.
"It was something you could see coming," Galvis said.
Galvis, 22, was touted by some in the organization as a possible successor to Rollins because of his defensive acumen. He won the 2011 Paul Owens Award as the top position player in the Phillies' system. He showed impressive development offensively.
Now, his path to the majors is firmly blocked.
The Phillies have no current plans to move Galvis from shortstop, which he will man at triple-A Lehigh Valley. But Galvis has his own agenda; he has asked for extra infield work at second and third base this spring.
If shortstop is Rollins' position, Galvis figures he can arrive in the majors as a utility infielder.
"I think it's a possibility," said Galvis, who doubled home a run in Sunday's 7-4 loss to the Yankees. "I have to find the way to get there. I want to play in the big leagues. If I have to play a different position, I'll play it."
First-base coach and infield coordinator Sam Perlozzo hadn't worked much with Galvis in previous camps but is impressed by his work ethic. Perlozzo was skeptical of the reports by front-office personnel that have long portrayed Galvis as major-league ready with the glove.
"I heard it and heard it and heard it," Perlozzo said. "I believed everything, but I just hadn't seen it. I never got to see him play enough. But finally this year, he seems to have upped his game. He's gotten bigger. He's gotten stronger."
Perlozzo said his only instructions were to introduce Galvis to other positions solely for a look-see. That has morphed into regular sessions at second and third.
"All the times he's come back out for extra work, he's wanted to go to a different spot," Perlozzo said. "I wouldn't let him do that if he hadn't gotten his work in at shortstop. But he has all his work in."
The Phillies dealt Wilson Valdez to Cincinnati this winter because of what they perceived to be a glut of middle infielders. Michael Martinez spent the 2011 season on the roster as a Rule 5 pick and no longer is restricted from playing in the minors. He's favored to win the job, but he made two errors at second base and botched a double-play ball in Sunday's Grapefruit League game.
Also in camp are Pete Orr and Kevin Frandsen, two players with major-league time. Neither is as adept defensively at shortstop as Martinez or Galvis.
More likely, the Phillies view Galvis as someone who could step in at short if Rollins were to miss a prolonged period. Still, when Valdez was traded, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. grouped Galvis in the mix with the other utility candidates.
For that to happen, Galvis must try the other positions. On the defensive spectrum, second and third base are easier than shortstop. But he has played at third only twice before; once at single-A Clearwater and another time two winters ago in Venezuela. (The shortstop on his winter-ball team was Elvis Andrus.)
"Third base is really a little bit harder because you see the ground balls differently," Galvis said. "You can see everything at shortstop. At third base, you have the line, and the ground balls get to you quicker. That's the big difference."
Of course, Galvis' defense has never been the problem. In total, his batting average jumped 45 points and OPS climbed 130 points from 2010 to 2011. Galvis attributes that to extra muscle he has added to his 5-foot-10 frame.
That's why the Phillies want Galvis in the minors again. More of the balls he hit that used to die on the infield made it through the holes. More line drives landed in the gaps. More time is needed for his growth.
But Galvis doesn't plan to spend four years waiting for shortstop to open.
"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "Right now, I feel good."