On Ian Desmond leading off, Ivan Rodriguez batting eighth
Manager Jim Riggleman made two new adjustments to the batting order, putting Ian Desmond at the leadoff spot and Ivan Rodriguez in the eight hole. Both moves stemmed from Nyjer Morgan's current situation.
With Morgan set to begin a suspension as soon as Monday, Riggleman wanted to give someone other than Danny Espinosa a chance to get used to hitting first. Riggleman gave Espinosa a day off and gave Adam Kennedy a shot at second, so his options were Desmond or Kennedy.
"I know eventually we're not going to have Nyjer, so I want to acclimate a couple other guys to the leadoff spot and see what they can do," Riggleman said. "Basically, it was going to be Desmond or Kennedy. I decided to put Desmond in there."
With Rodriguez, things are more delicate. Rodriguez is a future Hall of Famer and a proud man chasing his 3,000th hit. Surely, he does not want to bat eighth. But he also has a 72 OPS+ this season while hitting into 24 double plays, fourth-most in the majors. He remains a top-shelf defensive catcher, but take away his past offensive glories and he is an obvious candidate to hit eighth.
But he has not all season, until today. The problem is, Morgan -- another player with a 72 OPS+ -- has to hit somewhere. (Well, he doesn't have to; that's another conversation altogether. But he is playing center field today.) As we saw Friday night, when Morgan ended the inning by being caught stealing with the pitcher at the plate, Morgan's aggression on the bases makes him ill-suited to hit eighth.
"The thing is -- and I talked to Pudge about this -- I don't want Pudge to hit eighth," Riggleman said. "But the way we have some guys who can run, any of those guys who I put in that eighth spot, the running game is pretty much taken away. If I hit Nyjer eighth ... it's questionable baseball strategy on my part to allow him to run there. I don't want to have to be in a position where I say, 'Nyjer, you're in there but you can't run.' I have to hit him seventh. I don't want Espinosa, when he's playing, hitting eighth. Right now, pretty much whoever is catching is hitting eighth."
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