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Zobrist in lineup



Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was considering something different for his lineup tonight against Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels, and he did something different - starting switch-hitter Ben Zobrist in rightfield rather than Rocco Baldelli.

Zobrist, an infielder until being transformed into a utility man this season,  started one game in rightfield during the regular season (playing a total of seven innings), plus eight in left and three in center. Zobrist is a switch-hitter and will bat righthanded against Hamels; lefties have hit Hamels better.

"I have no concerns and actually our coaches feel very good about him being in the outfield,'' Maddon said.

The decision was based on how Zobrist, and DH Willy Aybar, match up with Phillies starter Cole Hamels. Maddon said that on Thursday, against Phillies RHP Brett Myers, he will start righthanded hitting Baldelli in rightfield and Cliff Floyd at DH.

"This is our best guess based on what we're observing with Hamels and Myers,'' Maddon said. "We hjust felt Willy and Zo-rilla matched up well against this guy today.''

One issue with starting Zobrist is that the Rays likely will have to keep him in the game, since he is the only true backup middle infielder they have.

Maddon also reiterated that David Price nor anyone else has been designated the closer, and that they will continue to use different pitchers in that role.

Otherwise, the lineup is as expected:
Iwamura, 2b
Upton, cf
Pena, 1b
Longoria, 3b
Crawford, lf
Aybar, dh
Navarro, c
Zobrist, rf
Bartlett, ss
Kazmir, p

Rollins, ss
Werth, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Feliz, 3b
Coste, dh
Ruiz, c
Hamels, p

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:42am]


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