CLEARWATER, Fla. — With the first spring action scheduled for Thursday, it's time to reprise an annual exercise in futility.

Let's predict the Phillies' 25-man roster for opening day!

There are 37 exhibition games to be played between now and the first real game, April 3 in Cincinnati, so anything is possible. Return to this in five weeks and laugh at me. For now, talk among yourselves.

STARTERS (5)
Jeremy Hellickson
Vince Velasquez
Clay Buchholz
Jerad Eickhoff
Aaron Nola

Nothing to see here, although it'll be interesting how the Phillies align their rotation. Hellickson is likely to receive the nod for Opening Day, so how about pushing Eickhoff to the home opener?

RELIEVERS (7)
Jeanmar Gomez
Joaquin Benoit
Hector Neris
Edubray Ramos
Pat Neshek
Joely Rodriguez
Adam Morgan

Pete Mackanin said Wednesday that, in an ideal scenario, the team will carry two lefthanded relievers. Rodriguez and Morgan happen to be the only two on the 40-man roster. Non-roster players such as Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett could push their way onto the team with good springs. But the roster crunch is real here because the Phillies need space to add some non-roster position players.

CATCHERS (3)
Cameron Rupp
Andrew Knapp
Ryan Hanigan

The best spot for Knapp in 2017 is the majors; the coaching staff has spent considerable time with Knapp in the early part of spring. If he can play a little first base, along with some catching, they could find enough at-bats for him. Hanigan is here as a third catcher, which is unusual. The Phillies really want a veteran presence as guidance. (This could be Bryan Holaday, too.)

INFIELDERS (5)
Tommy Joseph
Cesar Hernandez
Maikel Franco
Freddy Galvis
Andres Blanco

These are five locks, barring injury, for April 3. Trivia: Hernandez is the only holdover from the 2014 Opening Day roster.

OUTFIELDERS (5)
Howie Kendrick
Odubel Herrera
Michael Saunders
Aaron Altherr
Chris Coghlan

These five almost have to be considered locks, too. Coghlan's minor-league deal came with a $3 million salary if he's in the majors. He played a productive role in 2016 for the world-champion Cubs, so it's hard to imagine him not finding a spot on the 2017 Phillies.