Monday, April 21, 2014
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Opening Day: Projected incarnations of the Phillies line-up

Good morning, and welcome to Pittsburgh, the only place in the world where a salad order is accompanied by the question, "Do you want fries on that?"

Opening Day: Projected incarnations of the Phillies line-up

Shane Victorino will appear on an episode of "Hawaii Five-O." (Michael Bryant/Staff file photo)
Shane Victorino will appear on an episode of "Hawaii Five-O." (Michael Bryant/Staff file photo)

Good morning, and welcome to Pittsburgh, the only place in the world where a salad order is accompanied by the question, "Do you want fries on that?"

Charlie Manuel said yesterday that he already has his line-up set for today's season opener against veteran lefty Erik Bedard, but Charlie Manuel is also a master of suspense, so he declined that line-up. So in the couple of hours that remains before the great unveiling, let's take a look at some likely incarnations:

Line-up Number 1: Opening Day (vs. left-handed starter)

  1. Juan Pierre LF: Manuel likes him at the top of the order, and likes him against lefties, and say what you will about Pierre, but he does have a phenomenal career OBP against left-handed pitching, even though he himself is a left-hander.
  2. Placido Polanco 3B: He had a great spring, and has had great starts to the last two seasons. Manuel has batted him in the two-hole consistently all spring.
  3. Jimmy Rollins SS: This seems set in stone. Keep in mind he was the three-hole hitter at the start of last season.
  4. Hunter Pence RF: His career numbers as a clean-up hitter aren't very good, but he has fewer than 40 starts in that role. He should adjust.
  5. Shane Victorino CF: He crushes lefties. This seems low to have your line-up's best all-around player, but this seems to be where Manuel likes him.
  6. John Mayberry Jr. 1B: Again, if you want to quibble, we'd hit Carlos Ruiz here in order to get his base-reaching ability in front of Mayberry's power. But it seems as if Manuel wants to give his speed every opportunity to advance themselves when they reach base, and putting the slow-of-foot Ruiz in front of Mayberry would clog the basepaths, in Manuel's opinion.
  7. Carlos Ruiz C: He's had a great spring, and a solid few seasons at the plate.
  8. Freddy Galvis SS: He seems to drive the ball better as a left-handed hitter. At least it seemed that way in spring training. Right or left, any offense you get out of this spot is a bonus.
  9. Pitcher: Today, it is Roy Halladay. 
Line-up Number 2: Lefty 2.0 (vs. left-handed starter with Hamels/Lee on mound)
  1. Shane Victorino CF: He is the most accomplished speed/power combo on the team. And, as mentioned before, he crushes lefties. Having him at the top of the order will provide a better opportunity to drive in Ruiz and any other runners that happen to get on base in the bottom of the line-up.
  2. Placido Polanco 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins SS
  4. Hunter Pence RF
  5. John Mayberry Jr. LF: Mayberry is the team's best defensive left fielder and the team's best defensive first baseman. Defensively, it probably makes more sense to have him in left when the Phillies have a lefty on the mound, and at first base when the Phillies have a righty on the mound. 
  6. Ty Wigginton 1B: Wigginton will usually be the right-handed bat off the bench. His starts at first base should come against lefties, although Manuel usually puts a lot of stock in a hitter's track record against a certain pitcher. 
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Freddy Galvis 2B
  9. Pitcher
Line-up Number 3: Righty 1.0 (vs. right-handed starter)
  1. Shane Victorino CF
  2. Placido Polanco 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins SS
  4. Jim Thome 1B: Manuel said yesterday he thinks Thome can start 20 games at first base, but I think Manuel will find it hard to resist the urge to eclipse that number if Thome can stay healthy. I expect him in the line-up in the home opener against Anibal Sanchez. When he does start, Manuel has already said he likes him at clean-up.
  5. Hunter Pence RF
  6. Laynce Nix LF: I'd be surprised to see him get any starts against lefties. His career numbers in that situation are bad. But he does have an OPS of at least .781 against righties in each of the last three seasons. He's a swing and miss guy. It might make more sense to have Ruiz hit in front of him on days he starts.
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Freddy Galvis 2B
  9. Pitcher
Line-up Number 4: Righty 2.0 (vs. right-handed starter)
  1. Juan Pierre LF
  2. Placido Polanco 3B
  3. Jimmy Rollins SS
  4. Hunter Pence RF
  5. Shane Victorino CF
  6. John Mayberry Jr. 1B
  7. Carlos Ruiz C
  8. Freddy Galvis 2B
  9. Pitcher
The fun part will come when Manuel starts trying to get his regulars a day off. Expect Victorino to get his occasional rest against a right-handed starter with Mayberry in center field, Pierre in left field and Thome (or even Nix) at first base. When Rollins needs a day, don't be surprised if Placido Polanco moves to second and Freddy Galvis moves to short. Wigginton could get some additional starts at third on days that Polanco needs a break. And Mayberry is the likely candidate to move to right when Pence gets a break. Also keep in mind that Manuel likes to ride the hot hand.
Stay tuned for the official Opening Day line-up. We'll get it to you as soon as they get it to us. 

 



David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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