The first two names in the lineup jump out at you from first glance, and not just because they're two kids that spent the majority of the 2013 season in the minor leagues, but because of the positions they are playing, too.
Cesar Hernandez is leading off and starting at second base on Tuesday night against the Washington Nationals; Freddy Galvis is batting second and playing shortstop.
Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, who have played short and second together more than any other active middle infield duo in baseball, are both on the bench.
"They’ve been playing all year together at Lehigh Valley," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It gives a chance to give JRoll and Utley a bit of a break. Of course those guys will be on the bench for late in the game. But it’s all about having the players get a look, have them be evaluated to see how they’ll fit in in 2014, and the only way to do that is to get them out there to play, see where they’re at."
For Rollins, it's the fourth time in 19 games under Sandberg that he's out of the starting lineup; it's the third time for Utley.
One of the knocks on Charlie Manuel was his insistence on playing his regular players all the time, never wanting to give them a day off. Of course, almost all of those Charlie Manuel-managed teams were constantly playing meaningful baseball, so there was certainly some merit to his desire to play his best players all the time.
But with the Phillies out of the pennant race in the final four weeks of 2013, Sandberg said he could find more time to rest Rollins and Utley. Just as with Manuel's stance, resting the two 30-something veterans has some validit, too, if the Phils hope to get the most out of both in 2014.
"As needed, as the schedule is and how things are going," Sandberg said of his plans. "We’ve got (Gio) Gonzalez on the mound tonight, a tough lefty. I figure throw a couple of young, fresh bats at them. I could see something happening at the top of the order, one of those guys gets on base and (Kevin) Frandsen can handle the bat, maybe a little first and third and then (Carlos) Ruiz and (Darin) Ruf are coming up. I just see a run producing that way against this pitcher tonight. But, it’ll be, as far as J-Roll and Chase, they’ll have their strong of games, but it will have to do with what I think they need at this point. And the schedule will have a lot to do with that."
"Freddy is here to get a look. He will get some playing time in the 3 infield positions. But shortstop is a natural position for him. I’m make up the lineup daily and see how that goes. But Cesar is (also) here to get some games under his belt, all of the guys (are). Freddy also. They’re here to get some games, get some looks."
For what it's worth, Utley was stationed at first base during batting practice on Tuesday. With Michael Young now in Los Angeles and Ryan Howard not expected back this year, first base would seem like a logical place to have hi play some if the plan is to get both Hernandez and Galvis more looks this month.
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Kevin Frandsen, 1B
4. Carlos Ruiz, C
5. Darin Ruf, LF
6. Cody Asche, 3B
7. John Mayberry Jr., RF
8. Michael Martinez, CF
9. Ethan Martin, P