Jul 9, 2013, 10:47 PM EST
|USA Today Sports Images|
PHILADELPHIA — With Denard Span struggling to hit left-handed pitching, Nationals manager Davey Johnson decided to bench his starting center fielder tonight against the Phillies’ Cole Hamels, plugging the newly acquired Scott Hairston into Span’s standard leadoff spot.
Span is putting up strong numbers against right-handers (.305 batting average, .355 on-base percentage) this season, but those numbers plummet when he faces lefties (.154, .222).
Johnson doesn’t necessarily intend to turn the Span/Hairston combo into a true righty/lefty platoon, but he believes the mere thought of the two sharing time could play to his advantage.
“I think [Span] will come out of it, but also I think it will send a message around the league that I will use Hairston in his spot,” Johnson said. “It also causes some problems for the other managers. When they go to their bullpen in a lefty situation, I might use Hairston. That prevents them from doing that and enables Spanny to hit. So it just opens up more options and creates matchup problems for the other managers.”
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