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03/30/08 6:46 PM ET
Manuel ponders who to start in right
Jenkins or Werth to get nod against Nationals lefty Chico
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
LEHIGH VALLEY, Pa. -- The one question facing Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as he ponders his lineup for Monday's regular-season opener is who to insert in right field: Geoff Jenkins or Jayson Werth? With the Nationals handing the ball to lefty Matt Chico, the right-handed-hitting Werth would normally be the option in the expected platoon situation, based on his .375 average against southpaws in 2007. Jenkins hit .217 against lefties last season. But this is Opening Day, where ceremony sometimes trumps baseball strategy. "That's something I'm going to think about [Sunday night]," Manuel said. "Jenkins is a veteran who's been around a long time and is new to our club, but I don't know how much that will figure into it. I know Werth hit left-handers good last year, and Geoff struggled. I'll have to go back and look at how many at-bats he got against them." In a tiny sample size, Werth is 1-for-1 with a double and a walk against Chico, while Jenkins is 1-for-3 with a homer. Monday will determine whether Manuel digs the long ball. Jenkins is the hotter hitter, batting .429 (12-for-28) in his past nine exhibition games, On Sunday, he stroked a homer to dead center field, the first one hit at Triple-A Lehigh Valley's Coca-Cola Park. Werth went homerless this spring and hit .170, including an 0-for-4 on Sunday. Still, Manuel selected Placido Polanco to play second base on Opening Day 2005, because he crushed Nationals starter Livan Hernandez, as opposed to the left-handed-hitting future-of-the-franchise Chase Utley. At that time, Manuel had the data to support the decision. For his part, Jenkins would like to start in the opener, but understands that he and Werth can form an electric platoon in right field. "We're the dynamic duo, Batman and Robin," Jenkins said. "It's one of those things where Dobber [Greg Dobbs] may play in right, too. The good thing is we have options and good players all the way around. It's definitely special [to start], but if you're not starting, maybe you get a big hit off the bench to help win the game."
Which one is Jenkins?"I'm definitely Batman," Jenkins said. In other decisions, Manuel confirmed that the Phillies will stick to a five-man rotation the first time through, meaning Adam Eaton will start Saturday in Cincinnati. An off-day on Tuesday gave the team had the option of starting Opening Day starter Brett Myers that day with his normal four days' rest.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.