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03/25/08 7:17 PM ET

Phillies close to finalizing roster

Final spot most likely to go to either Snelling or Helms

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- While the Phillies have until 3 p.m. ET on Sunday to finalize their roster, there aren't as many choices to debate.

With Gary Knotts and Vic Darensbourg reassigned to Minor League camp Tuesday morning and Rule 5 Draft pick Travis Blackley's locker cleared out to potentially start the process of placing him on waivers and offering him back to the Giants, 30 players remain in camp.

A team representative described Blackley's situation as "in limbo," a multi-step process in which the lefty will decide whether to accept a Minor League assignment or become a free agent.

It's somewhat complicated, but the bottom line is this: Blackley isn't going to make the Phillies' Opening Day roster and will pitch for Triple-A Lehigh Valley or Triple-A Fresno, or will be looking for work.

The total number of players falls to 26 after removing Brad Lidge, Kris Benson, Ray Olmedo and Scott Mathieson from the Opening Day equation.

If the season started today, one scenario has the Phillies heading north with Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Adam Eaton, Tom Gordon, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Ryan Madson, Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers, J.C. Romero and J.D. Durbin on the pitching staff, with J.D. Durbin making the team despite a rough Grapefruit League performance in which he compiled a 12.33 ERA and allowed eight homers in 15 1/3 innings.

The 13 position players are: Eric Bruntlett, Pat Burrell, Chris Coste, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Geoff Jenkins, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, So Taguchi, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Jayson Werth.

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The final spot would go to Chris Snelling or Wes Helms, with Snelling's left-handed bat giving him the edge.

"I feel like the kid in the candy store who keeps reaching for the candy and gets his wrist slapped away," said Snelling, whose career has been derailed many times because of injuries. "My goal is to stay healthy all year, then go wherever they tell me."

Much can change. The team would love to deal Helms for a pitcher and send J.D. Durbin to Lehigh Valley, assuming he clears waivers. Manager Charlie Manuel has stated his preference for 12 pitchers, but he could be willing to go with 11 for the first four games of the season. Then he'll have 12 when Lidge returns.

Snelling, who is without options, could benefit from 11 pitchers, but he would be in jeopardy when Lidge returns, potentially on April 5, in that scenario.

"We haven't decided on anything yet," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We still have time."

Or, as Manuel said, while leaning back in a conference room chair after Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Cincinnati:

"Our roster isn't set. We have some things we can still do."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.