Jim Riggleman 'leaning' toward hitting Jayson Werth third, Ryan Zimmerman fourth
Today's lineup, the first this spring in which Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth appear, offers some insight into how Jim Riggleman will set his regular-season lineup. Werth will bat third today and Zimmerman will hit cleanup, which is how Riggleman is "leaning" to align his two best hitters once the season starts, he said.
Last year, when Zimmerman batted third behind leadoff man Nyjer Morgan and the second hitter du jour, Riggleman felt Zimmerman's lack of opportunities with men on base deflated the team. Werth last season punched up a .388 on-base percentage, which would have put him one point below Josh Willingham for the team lead.
"It allows to put a high on-base percentage guy in front of Zim," Riggleman said. "I'd like to have some men on base when Zim comes up."
In his career, Zimmerman has started 579 games batting third and 148 anywhere else in the lineup, including 60 games at cleanup. Riggleman spoke to Zimmerman about the switch and insisted Zimmerman did not care. Last year, when Riggleman batted Zimmerman fourth and Adam Dunn third against certain pitchers, Zimmerman showed indifference.
"I couldn't get the words out my mouth," Riggleman said. "People make a lot out of it, but [Zimmerman and Dunn] both were successful hitting third or fourth."
"I don't really care where I hit," Zimmerman said. "I would be the same hitter if I was hitting third, fourth, seventh."
Today, LaRoche is batting sixth with Mets left-hander Jonathan Niese starting. Riggleman said LaRoche would typically bat sixth against left-handed pitchers so Zimmerman can hit with Michael Morse, and not a lefty, behind him so pitchers and less enticed to pitch around Zimmerman. Against right-handed starters, LaRoche would likely bat fifth, Riggleman said.
| March 1, 2011; 9:41 AM ET
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