Phillies lineup: Joe Girardi makes dramatic change that could last a while

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Girardi makes dramatic change to Phillies' lineup that could last a while originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

MIAMI -- Nine games into the season, Phillies manager Joe Girardi has made a rather dramatic lineup change. And it sounds like he may stick with it for a while.

Kyle Schwarber, who opened the season 3 for 32 with a .194 on-base percentage, has been dropped from leadoff to fifth for Sunday afternoon's game against Miami.

J.T. Realmuto, who led off when Schwarber got a rest Saturday night, is back in the leadoff spot and Bryce Harper has been moved from third in the order to second.

"It's something we've talked about for a little bit, trying to separate (lefty hitters) Schwarber and Harper by more than one guy so it makes it a little bit more difficult to bring, you know, if you have a top lefty to face them both," Girardi said before Sunday's game. "We kind of wanted to see how things would work and that's what we've decided to do."

Girardi was asked if Schwarber would be back in the leadoff spot soon.

"No, I kind of like this," Girardi said. "We'll see how it goes. But I kind of like the way this sets up."

Harper, who won the NL MVP while hitting third for the Phillies last year, might stay in the two-hole for a while, too.

"I don't want him to do anything different," Girardi said. "I want him to be who he is. There's a lot of top hitters in lineups around the league that hit second. It gets him 18 more at-bats, I think, per season, which is obviously good for us and good for him. And without a pitcher hitting ninth there will still be a lot of opportunities to drive in runs.

"(The No. 3 spot) used to be a glamour spot. I think it's kind of changed. I think there's a lot of glamour in hitting 2, too. I see it around the league what teams are doing. I actually did it with Aaron Judge when I was in New York. It's changed a little because of the DH. It's a great spot to hit."

Finding a dependable leadoff hitter is a big part of the equation. Girardi thinks Realmuto can do it, even though he struck out four times in the spot Saturday night. The Phils had a .302 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot last year, second-lowest in baseball.

"Ironing out the leadoff hitter is important, too," Girardi said. "We like what J.T. has done and I think (Jean) Segura is always an option if J.T. doesn't play."

Segura, who returned to the lineup Sunday after missing three games with a sore shoulder, will see time in the leadoff spot because the Phillies closely monitor Realmuto's playing time. They want to keep their All-Star catcher healthy all season.

Realmuto has unusually good speed for a catcher.

"We've talked about his baserunning ability and you have two guys behind him (Harper and Nick Castellanos) that combined for 80 doubles last year and he's going to score on most doubles and I like that," Girardi said. "He's a guy who can steal a base. He's not a guy that you expect to play 150 games so we'll have to adjust a little to that."

In other lineup news, Johan Camargo remained at third base as Girardi opted for defense behind Zack Wheeler on Sunday. Bryson Stott, who struck out five times Saturday night, got a day off. Alec Bohm did not start after a three-RBI night Saturday.

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