Phillips in the 7th spot
After all the questions about Bryan Price’s batting order, and his being coy about it since the offseason, the Reds manager came awfully close to what I projected before Spring Training. That included Joey Votto in the second spot, Todd Frazier in the third spot and Brandon Phillips batting seventh.
Phillips has started in the seventh spot only 70 times in his career, and 66 of those came in 2006 — his first year in Cincinnati. Price was asked about his lineup choices before Monday’s opener vs. the Pirates.
“I mentioned in the offseason, once we signed Marlon [Byrd], that we would have an impact bat hitting seventh,” Price said. “Joey is another high on-base, extra base hit type of guy setting the table in the middle for guys like Todd, Devin, Marlon and Jay, that will be power sources for us. That certainly leads itself to Brandon in the seventh hole. I wanted to create enough separation between Joey and Jay, where we don’t make it easy to matchup for a left-handed relief pitcher. There will be times we could see Jay move up towards that four or five spot periodically based on who’s pitching. I think there will be some flexibility in that middle of the order as far as having some movement based on who’s pitching. But I’m very, very satisfied, 1-8, with where we are. As I’ve said to our players, this will be fluid. If there’s a better way to line these guys up through the course of the year, then I will do that. I think this is the best way to get started and the best way to be the most productive.”
Price was asked if he had to speak with Phillips about batting lower in the order.
Well, we’ve talked about it, collectively, as a group,” Price said. “We talked about what our expectations are of each other and we pride ourselves on playing selfless baseball. Brandon is a guy that loves responsibility and not just offensively, but also defensively. He prides himself on being an outstanding player. I think he also realizes there’s going to be a lot of opportunities to drive in runs in that seven hole and he also understands and appreciates the need to be impactful offensively throughout the entirety of the lineup besides saying we’re really good one-through-four but then there’s a real drop-off. I think any way you dice it, we’re not going to be as vulnerable as a healthy ballclub when you have somebody of Brandon’s caliber hitting seventh and I certainly feel the way Zack’s swung the bat in spring training, and his approach, we’ll be strong one-through-eight.”