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Knapp makes history in Phillies' leadoff spot

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PITTSBURGH -- The Phillies made history Friday when they played the Pirates in the longest nine-inning game in National League history.

They made more history Sunday afternoon during a 4-1 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park, when Phillies manager Gabe Kapler inserted catcher Andrew Knapp into the leadoff spot. Elias Sports Bureau said it is the first time a Phillies catcher has started a game hitting first in the liveball era, which dates to 1920.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Phillies made history Friday when they played the Pirates in the longest nine-inning game in National League history.

They made more history Sunday afternoon during a 4-1 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park, when Phillies manager Gabe Kapler inserted catcher Andrew Knapp into the leadoff spot. Elias Sports Bureau said it is the first time a Phillies catcher has started a game hitting first in the liveball era, which dates to 1920.

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"It was cool," Knapp said. "It's been a while since I led off. Maybe Little League. Actually maybe one game in college. But it was cool."

Knapp went 0-for-4, but he entered the game with a .405 on-base percentage and a 1.225 OPS in his past 13 games. He hit first because Cesar Hernandez did not start for the second consecutive game after fouling a pitch off his right foot Friday. Hernandez is OK, and he could return to the lineup for at least one of Monday's games in a doubleheader against the Mets at Citi Field.

Kapler actually hit Knapp first against the University of Tampa in an exhibition game in February in Clearwater, Fla. Kapler said at the time that nothing should be read into his Spring Training lineups, but while Knapp started the season slowly, he has profiled as a player with a knack for reaching base.

"We wanted to put somebody at the top of the lineup that could control a count, give us a longer at-bat," Kapler said. "He did exactly what we were hoping for. The leadoff spot is the leadoff man of the game only one time. He saw five pitches. I thought he worked a good at-bat there. And ultimately, we wanted his spot to come up a couple of times. He's been swinging the bat really well. He's been hitting for power and working deep counts and getting on base and doing a really nice job. We thought he was a good fit to kind of replace Cesar there."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Andrew Knapp