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Despite skeptics, Manuel to bat Rollins leadoff

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- In case you needed a reminder: Charlie Manuel fills out the Phillies' lineup card.

Manuel receives suggestions everywhere he goes. He gets them from fans on the street, reporters before games and folks in the front office. But Manuel is the manager, and he made it perfectly clear Tuesday afternoon at Bright House Field that he makes the final decision. And he will again in 2013.

A reporter asked Manuel about Jimmy Rollins' value hitting leadoff because he has power and the ability to drive in runners, as opposed to Ben Revere's higher on-base percentage, but almost complete lack of power.

"I don't think you guys ever see the value in Jimmy Rollins," Manuel said. "He's averaged 75-90 RBIs a year. That's what he averages. He scored [102] runs last year. Who's he knocking in? He's knocking in the eighth and ninth hitter. Why does he knock them in? Because he can hit doubles and triples and homers. That's why. He gets extra-base hits. Those guys [on base] are usually not good runners and they're slow, and they're not good baserunners.

"We had Juan Pierre last year. You were always asking why Pierre didn't lead off? Because for me, Rollins is a better leadoff hitter. And you can say Pierre hit .300 and Rollins hit .250 or .260, but Rollins' .250 or .260 had more value to it than Pierre's .300."

Manuel said he could hit Rollins lower in the lineup, but that would take away his speed, which he considers valuable.

So bet on Rollins hitting leadoff this season.

"He's been my leadoff hitter ever since I've been here," Manuel said. "When I see Ben Revere hit and see him play, we'll sit down and talk about where he's going to hit and where he's going to help us the most. I've got an idea. We'll find out where we want him. Nobody is going to tell me where to hit somebody. I don't care who you are."

What about President Obama?

"I'd tell him the same thing," Manuel said. "Get him on the phone. I'd like to talk to him anyway."