PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made a noticeable change to his lineup Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park.
He finally split up left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with right-handed-hitting Michael Young.
Theoretically, it should make life more difficult for left-handed pitchers. Utley entered the game against the Pirates hitting .125 (2-for-16) with one triple, one RBI, two walks and five strikeouts against lefties this season. Howard entered the night hitting .111 (2-for-18) with two doubles, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts against them.
But their struggles against lefties are not coming from a small sample size. Utley has hit .197 with a .634 OPS against lefties from 2011-13. Howard has hit .199 with a .608 OPS against lefties in that span.
They essentially have been automatic outs against lefties for two-plus seasons. Young has not been much better this year, hitting .200 (3-for-15) against lefties, although he has a much more than respectable .832 OPS against them from 2011-13. But simply having a right-handed hitter between Utley and Howard will make opposing managers think a little more late in games. Before Wednesday, managers could just run a left-handed reliever to the mound to face Utley and Howard in succession. Now the lefty will have to face a right-handed hitter, or the manager has to remove him from the game, if he does not want him facing Young.
"I can see how that would be beneficial," Utley said.
It makes perfect sense to keep this look against right-handed starting pitchers, too, but Manuel was noncommittal.
"I could," he said. "It depends how we match up."
But by having Utley and Howard hit back to back against a right-handed starter, the Phillies essentially are banking on getting to the starter in the first five or six innings. If they don't, which often has been the case this season, things get easy again for the opposing manager late in the game.
Returns of Chooch, Delmon could impact lineup
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies outfielder John Mayberry Jr. hit fifth Wednesday against Pirates left-hander Wandy Rodriguez.
Beginning Sunday, it could be Carlos Ruiz. Shortly after that, it could be Delmon Young.
Ruiz is serving the end of a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant. He can rejoin the team Sunday against the Mets at Citi Field. Young is recovering from microfracture surgery on his right ankle. He could join the team in the next couple weeks, if the Phillies believe he can play competently defensively in right field.
"That makes it different," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of his lineup. "That gives us two right-handed hitters. Chooch was hitting .340 or something last year. Delmon Young, he's a good hitter."
Could Ruiz hit fifth beginning Sunday? That certainly would allow the Phillies to keep hitting Michael Young between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
"I don't know," Manuel said. "We'll just have to wait and see."
Ruiz went 1-for-3 with a three-run home run and two walks in a rehab game Wednesday with Class A Clearwater. He caught nine innings. He will play with Double-A Reading on Friday and Saturday. Delmon Young went 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored Tuesday with Clearwater. He played nine innings in right field. He is scheduled to continue his rehab Thursday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Pettibone earns another turn in Phils' rotation
PHILADELPHIA -- As expected, Phillies right-hander Jonathan Pettibone will pitch against the Mets on Saturday at Citi Field.
He pitched well in his big league debut Monday against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, allowing six hits, two runs and striking out six in 5 1/3 innings.
"He did good," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He pitched pretty good."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.