CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler believes the two most important spots in a lineup are the Nos. 2 and 4 holes.Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana hit there most of last season. But with J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura joining the Phillies in the offseason, Kapler has
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Gabe Kapler believes the two most important spots in a lineup are the Nos. 2 and 4 holes.
Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana hit there most of last season. But with J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura joining the Phillies in the offseason, Kapler has more options. The second-year skipper said on Friday that he expects to give César Hernández another long look in the leadoff spot. Hoskins still seems like the ideal cleanup hitter.
So who hits second and third?
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Segura and Realmuto make some sense. Segura because he is a contact hitter, and Realmuto because he hits for power and has better career splits against right-handers than left-handers, meaning there is less concern about Kapler stacking a bunch of right-handed hitters in a row. Of course, everything changes if the Phillies sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
"I think in a perfect world, you don't have four righties in a row or four lefties in a row," Kapler said on Saturday afternoon at Spectrum Field. "But Realmuto is a guy that hits righties. Rhys Hoskins is a guy that hits righties. They feel comfortable against right-handed pitching. If you have four left-handed hitters who get their [butts] kicked by left-handed pitchers, that's problematic. But I don't think that's the way our lineup is going to be constructed.
"A lot of that is going to be dependent on how others are performing, and who the guy on the mound is. We have to consider a couple things ... where a guy's comfort level is at varies spots in the lineup."
Santana, for example, preferred to hit second or fourth, compared to other spots in the lineup. Kapler will gather that information from Realmuto, Segura and McCutchen, too.
"It's more getting with J.T. and asking him, 'Are there any spots in the lineup you don't feel particularly comfortable in?'" Kapler said. "As a catcher, you're going to be hitting earlier in games potentially. Does it make more sense for you to hit third, by way of example. I guess it's a little long-winded way of saying, 'I'm not sure yet.' Those are conversations that are ongoing. The thing that excites me most is, all of these guys -- McCutchen, Segura, Hernandez, Rhys, Realmuto -- all of those guys can hit one through five, one through six."
The Phillies have only two left-handed hitters on the projected Opening Day roster: Odúbel Herrera and Nick Williams. They will compete for playing time in center field and right field, along with Roman Quinn (switch-hitter) and Aaron Altherr (right-handed hitter). Second baseman Hernandez and catcher Andrew Knapp are switch-hitters.
But Kapler said he does not think his lineup is too right-handed heavy.
"Because we have a certain kind of right-handed hitter, at least platoon neutral, it doesn't feel that way to me," Kapler said.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.