SOOooo, assuming it's Freel leading off, who bats 2nd, 4th, and 6th?!?!?
My guess, Hatteberg, Griffey, and Dunn...
Reds hope two rights don't make a wrong
To balance lineup, young bats must deliver
BY JOHN FAY | JFAY@ENQUIRER.COM
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DUNEDIN, Fla. - For Reds manager Jerry Narron's plan to split the left-handers in his lineup to work, the right-handers splitting them are going to have to hit.
That would be Brandon Phillips and Edwin Encarnacion.
Phillips is likely to hit third in Narron's plan, Encarnacion fifth. Those are two very key spots in the lineup.
"I have confidence in them," Narron said, "and they have confidence in themselves. I think they'll both benefit from having left-handers hitting around them."
Phillips, 25, and Encarnacion, 24, are about the same age and they put up about the same numbers last year.
Encarnacion hit .276 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI. He hit .303 with runners in scoring position.
Phillips hit .276 with 17 home runs and 75 RBI. He hit .297 with runners in scoring position.
Both also were on their way to much better years until they hit the wall in the September. Encarnacion hit .214 with one homer and five RBI in September after hitting .317 with seven homers and 24 RBI in August. Phillips hit .149 with two homers and nine RBI after hitting .330 with seven homers and 17 RBI in August.
If they can build on last year, the Reds have a chance to have a good offense. If they don't, the Reds could struggle offensively as they did last September.
"It's simple: They have to get it done," Narron said.
The third-fifth arrangement works well because it allows Phillips to use his speed - he stole 25 bases in 27 attempts last year - and it will give Encarnacion chances with runners in scoring position, something he has a knack for.
"I don't really care where I hit," Encarnacion said. "I can hit anywhere. (But) I like batting with runners on base."
Neither Phillips nor Encarnacion got much time last year in the spot they're going to be in this year.
Phillips hit all over the lineup. He led off nine times, hit second 16 times, third once, fifth once, sixth 28 times, seventh 66 times, eighth 15 times and ninth twice.
Encarnacion hit second three times, third nine times, fourth 39 times, fifth 19 times, sixth 25 times, seventh 13 times and eighth twice.
Narron points out that while Phillips and Encarnacion are in important spots in the lineup and thus key to the club's success, the whole lineup has to work for the Reds to be good offensively.
"For us to be successful, we're going to need 25 guys," Narron said. "We don't have one guy to carry us. We don't have the great Albert Pujols."
Narron has the stat to back up that assertion.
"Last year, we didn't have a single position player get a vote - not even a 10th-place vote - for Most Valuable Player," he said. "We've got to have 25 guys do well."