Playing by the rules paying off for Phils

It’s not surprising that the Phillies added slick-fielding Michael Martinez to their roster as a Rule 5 player. It is surprising that three Rule 5 players are on the roster.

The Phillies took a Rule 5 flyer on Shane Victorino in 2005 and he’s turned into a two-time All-Star. Last season, GM Ruben Amaro plucked David Herndon from the Angels. Herndon had never pitched above the Double-A level.

“I was really excited to come to the Phillies last year,” Herndon said. “But I was concerned about making the team. I didn’t want to get offered back to the Angels. Who wouldn’t want to come to this organization?”

After the initial season, a team can option the Rule 5 player back to the minors, which is what the Phillies have done with Herndon.

Sometimes, they strike gold. Other times, it goes the other way.

The Phillies lost slugging prospect George Bell to Toronto in 1981. Bell went on to drive in more than a 1,000 runs.

“You never know what can happen with a Rule 5,” Brewers outfield instructor John Shelby said. “But a team like the Phillies can afford to take chances like they do since they have had such good teams. If you’re as strong as they are from 1 to 24, you can take a chance with the last roster spot.”

Victorino was plucked from the Dodgers’ organization. The Phillies paid the $50,000 Rule 5 fee, but offered Victorino back to L.A. for $25,000. The Dodgers didn’t want him.

“It worked out really well for me,” Victorino said. “I was thrilled to stay with the Phillies.”

Bet on the versatile Martinez, who was obtained from the Nationals, to make it through the season with the Phillies.

“That would be good,” Victorino said. “He’s a talented ballplayer.”

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