Blog Entry

Coste Phils' DH; Zobrist in RF for Rays

Posted on: October 22, 2008 5:34 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2008 7:28 pm

ST. PETERSBURG -- Game 1 lineups are in as the beginning of the World Series approaches, and there are two noteworthy decisions from Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel and Tampa Bay skipper Joe Maddon.

The first: Manuel has decided to use Chris Coste as his designated hitter. A backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz, Coste hit .263 with nine homers and 36 RBI in 98 games for the Phillies this season. He will bat eighth.

The interesting thing with this decision is that the Phillies only list two catchers on the roster. So if Ruiz is hurt and Coste fills in, the Phillies will have to play without a designated hitter.

"When I managed the Indians, I didn't do it very much, but since I've been over in the National League, I've done it quite a bit," Manuel said of using both of his catchers at once. "I've taken my catcher out quite a bit this year, and especially when Coste is catching, I'll put Ruiz in, sometime in the eighth inning or ninth inning, especially to catch (closer Brad) Lidge. ...

"As far as Coste DHing, I did think a lot about it, but I wanted to make sure that I could cover everything."

Also, Maddon will start Ben Zobrist in right field in place of Rocco Baldelli or Gabe Gross. Zobrist, the Rays' superutilityman who has only four postseason at- bats and hit only .253 with 12 homers and 30 RBI this season, will bat eighth.

Maddon told me at Tuesday's workout that matchups were favorable enough for Baldelli that he was considering playing the outfielder both in Games 1 and 2. But ultimately, given Baldelli's battle with mitochondrial disease (it leaves him fatigues and saps his muscles of energy), Maddon decided it was too risky to play him in both games.

"It's a matter of getting him physically ready to play today or tomorrow, and we chose tomorrow," Maddon said while the Rays took batting practice before their first-ever World Series game.

Part of that is because Cole Hamels, Philadelphia's Game 1 starter, is unusual in that he is a left-hander who is more effective against right-handers (like Baldelli) than lefties. For the season, right-handers hit only .215 against Hamels, while lefties hit .262.

As such, Maddon is playing three lefties -- second baseman Akinori Iwamura, first baseman Carlos Pena and outfielder Carl Crawford -- while leaving one semi-regular on the bench (outfielder Gabe Gross) in favor of Zobrist. Also, switch-hitter Willy Aybar will be the designated hitter, leaving lefty Cliff Floyd on the bench.

"We look at the way Hamels pitches and the way different guys in the lineup hit and the way pitchers are able to handle them," Maddon said. "Zoey has been getting work in the outfield. He's done great for us the last week of the season. We like Willy in there and we like Ben in there."

Said Baldelli: "I think I'm going tomorrow. When I showed up today, I wasn't in the lineup. That's all I know."


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