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Phillies waiting until last minute to announce leadoff batter

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There are not many mysteries left for the Phillies after a spring training that was delightfully

uneventful. However, as the team arrived in Atlanta on Sunday night to prepare to start the regular season

against the Braves on Monday, one question was still hovering over them.

Who exactly will Charlie Manuel start in the leadoff spot?

Will it be his old standard in Jimmy Rollins, who has held firm to the top spot in the order for almost

all of Manuel's nine seasons in Philadelphia? Or will it be newcomer centerfielder Ben Revere, who more

fits the prototype leadoff role of slap hitting and stealing bases with no power?

At the weekend's On-Deck Series at Citizens Bank Park, Manuel wasn't about to let it slip - even if he

dropped a few confusing hints along the way.

"I would feel comfortable hitting (Revere) leadoff, second or anywhere else in the lineup," Manuel said.

"I feel very comfortable with him. It depends on what we've got."

Manuel has done that coming down the stretch in spring training. He was able to get more of a look at

Revere than any other potential candidate for the job because Rollins was away with the United States unit

in the World Baseball Classic. Still, even with Rollins back over the last week, Revere has been the

leadoff hitter.

But Manuel made sure not to close the door completely on Rollins -- pointing out the reason that he

liked Rollins in the leadoff role in the first place.

"I like Jimmy Rollins leading off for a couple of things -- one of them is the runs he produces from the

leadoff spot," Manuel said. "You may ask how he produces runs from the leadoff spot, well he's knocking in

the seventh-, eighth- and ninth-hole hitters. How does he do it? By knocking doubles, triples and homers."

The only time the answer will likely leak out is mid-afternoon on Monday when Manuel places it on the

clubhouse board. However, there is one thing to keep in mind about the whole thing: Manuel may decide to

switch things up for Atlanta only because of the Braves depth of left-handed relievers in the bullpen.

"I'll look over the matchups," Manuel said. "I'll play with it a little bit and do some thinking.

Atlanta's got three lefties in their bullpen and their closer has something to do with it."
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