The Opening Day Lineup
Charlie Manuel has 17 days before he must fill out his Opening Day lineup card.
How will it look?
Here is a mostly educated guess:
- Jimmy Rollins, SS
- Placido Polanco, 3B
- Raul Ibanez, LF
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Ben Francisco, RF
- Shane Victorino, CF
- Carlos Ruiz, C
- Wilson Valdez, 2B
- Roy Halladay, P
Manuel has hit Victorino second and Polanco fifth a few times this spring, so I suppose that’s a possibility. That would bump Francisco down a spot. But it seems pretty clear Ibanez is his guy to hit third … thanks to us?
“Ibanez, you guys talked me into hitting him third,” Manuel said today in Dunedin. “You were telling me what his career average is hitting third and what he hit last year third and all that.”
Life would be easier for Manuel if he had Chase Utley healthy, but he’s not. That means Manuel has to find new No. 3 and 5 hitters to open the season. Manuel said he isn’t sure how important those spots are to Ryan Howard‘s success in 2011.
“How much? I don’t know,” he said. “The more patient Ryan gets the more balls he’s going to get to hit. I think that’s the key to what kind of year he has.”
Placido Polanco, 35, hyperextended his left elbow in the first inning today. Utley, 32, is sidelined indefinitely with pain in his right knee. Brad Lidge, 34, is battling tendinitis in his right biceps.
Manuel was asked if he worries about injuries because of an older lineup.
“Never,” he said. “I don’t worry about that. Seriously. I don’t have time for that. If you’re going to stay focused on what you’re trying to accomplish that’s just part of it.”
The Phillies moved into first place in the Grapefruit League standings with today’s victory over the Blue Jays.
Quick, what’s the magic number?!
“First place is good anywhere,” Manuel said.
Does it make him want to eat grapefruit?
“Yeah, I’ll eat grapefruit,” he said.