Just because Brandon Phillips is uncomfortable batting cleanup doesn’t mean he can’t do it.
After being moved on April 18 from leadoff to cleanup, Cincinnati’s second baseman needed some time to adjust and shake off the lingering effects of a leg injury before finally starting to produce at his Silver Slugger level.
Phillips is hitting .331 (47-for-142) with seven home runs and 31 runs batted in over his last 36 games.
“I’ve been struggling when I have runners in scoring position since moving to the fourth spot,” said Phillips, whose two-run homer Friday ended up driving in the decisive runs in Cincinnati’s 7-3 win over the Mets. “There’s always room for improvement. I try to do the best I can do from the four-hole, try to protect Joey Votto as much as possible.”
Phillips’ surge was a payoff for the patience displayed by manager Dusty Baker.
“Everybody wants somebody else to bat cleanup, but this guy is closing in on 40 RBI in his time and he’s hitting batting cleanup,” Baker said. “So other than Joey, he’s the next best, I think, with runners in scoring position for a large number of opportunities. So it is nice to get him swinging good.”
Phillips might find himself being moved back to leadoff just as he’s warming up to the cleanup role. Scott Rolen, out since May 12 with a strained left shoulder, was hoping to be activated as early as Monday after completing a weekend rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville.
Courtesy of : foxsportsohio.com