WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker says he has made out about 100 different lineup combinations, and he plans on using Spring Training as a way to experiment with different lineups.Once the Nats acquired Adam Eaton this offseason, debate began on whether to the left-handed hitting Eaton
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dusty Baker says he has made out about 100 different lineup combinations, and he plans on using Spring Training as a way to experiment with different lineups.
Once the Nats acquired Adam Eaton this offseason, debate began on whether to the left-handed hitting Eaton or right-handed Trea Turner profiled best as the team's leadoff hitter. No matter who leads off, Turner and Eaton were expected to be one of the best 1-2 combos in the Majors. But Baker says he hasn't committed to having both players at the top of the order to split up left-handers Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper, who are almost certain to hit in the third and fourth spots in the lineup.
"Do I bet three of four left-handers in a row and just let the other manager wipe out my whole lineup with a couple lefties through the course of a game?" Baker said. "Or do I try to achieve balance?"
During the past two Grapefruit League games, Baker has batted Eaton near the middle and bottom of the order. He batted seventh in Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Astros after hitting sixth the previous game against the Cardinals. Eaton has started as the No. 1 or No. 2 hitter in all but seven of his 505 career starts, but he said he would be happy to hit anywhere in the lineup.
And Turner excelled as the Nats' leadoff hitter last season, but when he was with the Padres' organization he said he hit second or third in the order most often.
"I mean, I think I pride myself on being a good hitter so if I have to, my job changes and I have to adapt to do that," Turner said. "So it wouldn't be totally unusual, but at the same time I think there's an adjustment you have to make."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.