Five games into his run as manager of the Phillies, Ryne Sandberg has been pretty creative with the lineup card. So far the Phils’ interim skipper has had a different lineup for each game and Tuesday’s game against the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park is no different.
One interesting element of the lineup is the same for a second straight night, though, and that’s catcher Carlos Ruiz batting in the No. 2 slot of the order.
After going 4 for 4 in the eight-hole on Sunday, Sandberg put Ruiz in the two-hole for Monday’s game and was rewarded with a double and a solo homer. With those two extra-base hits, Elias Sports Bureau says Ruiz is the first Phillies catcher to produce a pair of extra-base hits in the No. 2 hole since Mike Lieberthal did it on May 24, 1996.
Talk about obscure stats …
Anyway, there is a pretty sound theory behind Sandberg using Ruiz as his No. 2 hitter.
“I like his ability to use the whole field. He has a good right-center stroke when he's right,” Sandberg explained. “So I think it's a spot right now that's conducive to, with his swing, to help himself with his stroke and to help the team, and he's a very good situational guy who can handle the bat, and the No. 2 spot is ideal for a guy like that.
"He is a possible hit-and-run guy, man on second, nobody out, very good stroke, getting the guy over, and so it was good to see him come through last night with some good swings. And he is back in there [Tuesday].”
If there is someone who understands the nuance of batting in the No. 2 slot, it’s Sandberg. In his 16 major-league seasons, Sandberg batted second in 1,223 games. He produced a .291 batting average and .348 on-base percentage with 186 homers from the No. 2 hole.
In the meantime, count on Sandberg’s lineups to be ever-changing.
“I’m experimenting with it, in some cases,” Sandberg said. “My lineups are day-to-day with the way the game goes, and adjust from there.”