04/06/09 12:14 AM ET
Manuel throws order for loop in opener
Skipper flip-flops Werth, Victorino, has three lefties in heart
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
The lineup changes often during the season, but fans pay a little extra attention to the Opening Day lineup. Entering the season, it looked like Manuel might hit Shane Victorino second and Jayson Werth fifth or sixth.
So, naturally, Manuel hit Werth second and Victorino sixth on Opening Night.
The move meant Manuel put his three left-handed run producers -- Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez -- hitting in order in the heart of the lineup.
Manuel said he hit Victorino sixth because he had not had as many at-bats as he would have liked in Spring Training because he spent time with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
"He hasn't been swinging real good," Manuel said. "If he gets on, of course, it'll give him a better chance at running. It'll give us a chance to play some action baseball down toward the bottom of our lineup. And Werth has had a good spring, and he hit second for me quite a bit last year, too."
And hitting the three left-handers in a row?
"It's something that we definitely want to see or try," Manuel said. "They're going to throw three righty starters at us, but at the same time their closer is a lefty. That's a problem. We'll get a good look at that pretty early in the season and see how it goes. We'll make adjustments off that."
Sure, enough Braves closer Mike Gonzalez, who is left-handed, faced Utley, Howard and Ibanez in the ninth inning Sunday night. He walked Utley, but struck out Howard and Ibanez to close out the 4-1 victory for the Braves.
Manuel doesn't expect that one inning to change his lineup just yet.
"We played one game, man," Manuel said. "Break 'em up? What would you suggest? Our lineup is our lineup. There are some things we could do. We could shuffle some guys around, but more than likely it will end up right where it's at."
Romero will be there: Left-hander J.C. Romero, who opens the season serving a 50-game suspension for violating MLB's Drug Policy, was not allowed to be in uniform for Sunday's pregame introductions. But he will be allowed to be in uniform for Wednesday's ring ceremony.
Gradoville re-assigned: Bullpen catcher Tim Gradoville has been re-assigned to Class A Lakewood. Jesus Tiamo, a coach for the Phillies in the Dominican Summer League, has taken his place.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team re-assigned Gradoville to work with catchers in the lower levels of the Minor Leagues. Amaro said Gradoville eventually could return to the big league club.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.