ATLANTA — Jimmy Rollins dashed to meet his teammates for stretch at 5 p.m. Monday and almost forgot his red Phillies hat on this, his 13th straight opening day as Phillies shortstop. In 10 of those seasons, Rollins was the first Phillies player to hit. This time, the lineup was different.
"Actually," Rollins said, "I haven't even looked."
Rollins knew, though. He batted second for the first time in nearly nine years. His customary leadoff spot belonged to Ben Revere.
It marked a mild surprise. Charlie Manuel used Revere at the top during spring training but was steadfast in his defense of Rollins as a leadoff hitter. Seven weeks ago, Manuel said if Revere made an impression, he could play his way into the role.
"We'll see how long I give it," Manuel said. "I come to the ballpark to win. I don't have to put a time on it or nothing. I can't tell you if it's going to be five days, 10 days, two days. We'll see. I just felt like that's what I wanted to see. That's how I wanted to put it together."
Batting Revere first allowed Manuel to keep his two speed guys at the top while not leaving his lineup susceptible to lefthanded pitchers. Rollins, a switch hitter, slotted between three lefties in Revere, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Manuel is entranced by Revere's speed potential at the top of his lineup. The centerfielder stole 40 bases in 124 games last season. He could do even better with a full season of 600 plate appearances. He started an opening day for the first time Monday.
"I look at Jimmy against righties, he hooks the hole good," Manuel said. "If Ben gets on, Jimmy is definitely capable of hitting balls to the right side of the diamond, getting him over, things like that. Ben's more of a spray hitter. He hits more to the left side of the diamond than Jimmy. There's a lot of things that go into play there."
When asked about the switch, Rollins said there was nothing to it. The last time Rollins batted second was May 29, 2004. The leadoff hitter that day, Doug Glanville, was in attendance Monday while working for ESPN's telecast.
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