5/16/2014 7:25 P.M. ET
Searching for spark, Sandberg tinkers with lineup
By Austin Laymance / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are struggling to score runs at home, and manager Ryne Sandberg tinkered with the lineup on Friday in hopes of turning things around.
Entering Friday's matchup against the Reds, the Phillies were averaging 2.10 runs per game over their last 10 contests at Citizens Bank Park, which ranked as the lowest average at home in the Majors since April 16. During that stretch, the Phillies hit a combined .208 and were limited to one run or fewer six times.
Sandberg said he wanted to try something different with the lineup Friday, which meant Jimmy Rollins leading off for the first time this year and Carlos Ruiz hitting in the No. 2 spot. Ruiz's .385 on-base percentage is second on the team behind Chase Utley (.401), while Rollins is third (.357).
Ben Revere, who has a .289 on-base percentage in 30 starts as the leadoff hitter, was unavailable Friday because of a stomach virus, according to Sandberg. John Mayberry Jr. replaced Revere in center field, though the manager would not say if Revere would have been in the lineup Friday even if he was healthy.
"I try to come up with a lineup that makes sense for that particular game," Sandberg said. "On the other note, trying something different is a good idea. For this game, trying something different is something that I wanted to do."
Sandberg has been mixing and matching lineups all season, using 22 different variations among his position players. It appears he's still looking for the right mix. The Phillies have scored 144 runs in 38 games. Only the Reds (143), Braves (126) and Padres (120) have scored fewer.
"There's been a lot of trial and error, and tinkering and giving guys opportunities," Sandberg said. "So it's really up to the guys to make up the lineup at some point. Players make up the lineup. You don't take a guy out of the lineup when he's hitting. In some regards, it's up to the hitters."
Righty Gonzalez begins rehab at Clearwater
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez began a Minor League rehab assignment on Thursday with Class A Advanced Clearwater, pitching five innings in his first professional appearance in nearly two years.
Gonzalez reached 94 mph with his fastball and threw 69 pitches. He was charged with three runs on six hits, striking out one against two walks.
Gonzalez is on the 60-day disabled list and needs to build arm strength after dealing with right shoulder tendinitis in Spring Training. But the fact that he's pitching in games is an encouraging sign for the organization. The Cuban originally agreed to a $48 million contract with the Phillies last July, but he ultimately signed a $12 million deal in August following concerns with his physical.
"It sounds like he's healthy," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said on Friday. "It sounds like the velocity is there, so that's different than what we saw in the spring three months ago. So that's a good sign. He must be healthy to be throwing that hard. Now it's just getting his games in, get his innings in and keep an eye on him."
Gonzalez struggled with his command on Thursday, but that might be a result of some mechanical adjustments he's working on.
"A little bit erratic with his control," Sandberg said. "He threw some changeups that were a quality pitch. But his control was off yesterday."
In other injury news, first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf was reinstated from the 15-day DL (left oblique strain) and optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday. He began the season on the DL, and Sandberg said Ruf still needs more at-bats before the Phillies consider promoting him.