PHOENIX — Manager John Russell tweaked the middle of the lineup, putting Lastings Milledge into the No. 3 position and dropping Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit each down one spot.
“The middle is kind of interchangeable,” Russell said.
Milledge, who has the ability to hit to all fields, has done well hitting behind runners and with situational hitting. Russell hopes to create more scoring opportunities by putting Milledge after table-setters Aki Iwamura and Andrew McCutchen.
The move could pay off for Doumit, who is a bit of a square peg in the round hole of the cleanup spot. He profiles better as a No. 5 hitter, but the power-starved Pirates often have no choice but to put him in the No. 4 spot.
“In the real world, yeah, I think he’s more comfortable (at No. 5) and it’s a better fit for him,” Russell said. “I’m not saying he can’t hit 4, because he’s very capable. You try to tell guys, you’re only the 4 hitter one time through the lineup. Other than that, you’re in a good position to drive in runs, whether you’re 3, 4 or 5, because of the guys in front of you.
“Him being in the 5 hole, there’s not going to be a whole lot of difference, but maybe it will relax him a little bit. Sometimes when guys are in the 4 hole, they think, ‘I’ve got to be the guy.’ I know Jason Bay used to talk about that. In a typical lineup, I think Ryan would fit more in a 5 or 6 spot because he can switch-hit and he’s not the big, huge power hitter. He’s more of a gap-to-gap guy.”
Russell doesn’t expect Jones — who has gone, gasp!, two games without homering — will change his approach in the 4 spot.
“I don’t think they’re going to pitch to him any differently,” Russell said. “With Doumit behind him and McCutchen in front of him this year, I was interested to see if they would change how they pitched to him, and they really didn’t. So I think he’s going to see the same stuff in the 4 hole. He’s going to be the same in the 4 hole as he was in the 3 or as he would be in the 5 or the 6.”
Lineups for tonight’s game:
Pirates (2-2) — 1. Aki Iwamura 2b, 2. Andrew McCutchen cf, 3. Lastings Milledge lf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Ryan Doumit c, , 6. Jeff Clement 1b, 7. Andy LaRoche 3b, 8. Zach Duke (1-0, 3.60) lhp, 9. Ronny Cedeno ss
Diamondbacks (3-1) — 1. Conor Jackson lf, 2. Tony Abreu ss, 3. Justin Upton rf, 4. Adam LaRoche 1b, 5. Mark Reynolds 3b, 6. Miguel Montero c, 7. Chris Young cf, 8. Kelly Johnson 2b, 9. Dan Haren (1-0, 1.29) rhp