Phils eye more production at second, catcher

Phils eye more production at second, catcher

Phils eye more production at second, catcher
MIAMI -- The Phillies need Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz back in their lineup soon.

Entering Wednesday's game against the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium, Phillies second basemen ranked last in the National League with a .557 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Phillies catchers ranked last with a .574 OPS. (Ruiz was hitless in his last 21 at-bats before he went on the disabled list with lower back inflammation, but he hit .302 with a .400 on-base percentage last season.)

To put that in perspective, Astros pitchers entered the night with a .593 OPS.

"We need our lineup to get better," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

The Phillies rank fifth or better in OPS at first base (fifth at .864), third base (second at .826), shortstop (fourth at .749) and center field (third at .837). Pitchers rank eighth (.358), right fielders rank ninth (.744) and left fielders rank 13th (.694).

The Phillies have had very little happening offensively other than Ryan Howard, especially late in games. It might explain why they have scored just three runs in their last 35 innings against opposing relief pitchers.

"We don't have the offense we used to have," Manuel said. "We don't have the depth in our offense right now. We get Utley back, that's definitely going to help us some. But we do not have the offense we had. I've told you about the guys with the high on-base percentages. We used to lead the league in baserunners, but we also used to lead the league in runs scored."

Manuel has heard in meetings and elsewhere that scoring is down everywhere.

Yeah, so?

"That don't mean we have to have that problem," Manuel said. "I say that in meetings all the time. That's like saying if somebody jumps off a bridge, you're going to jump off with them. ... I want us to be the best team in baseball. I want to put the best players on the field. I want the best hitting, the best pitching, the best defense."