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Utley cool with moving up from No. 3 hole

Utley cool with moving up from No. 3 hole

Utley cool with moving up from No. 3 hole
ATLANTA -- The Phillies made a truly significant change to their lineup Sunday when they moved Chase Utley from the No. 3 hole.

He had been the team's primary No. 3 hitter since the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees on July 28, 2006. Utley had played 722 games from the time Abreu left the organization through Saturday's losses to the Mets in a doubleheader at Citi Field. He had hit third 597 times. But Utley is having the worst season of his career, entering Wednesday's regular-season finale at Turner Field hitting just .256 with 11 home runs and 43 RBIs in 102 games. His .765 on-base-plus-slugging percentage is his lowest since he played 43 games as a rookie in 2003.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel moved Utley to the No. 2 spot because he remains a high on-base percentage hitter. He has Hunter Pence hitting third. The lineup is expected to remain that way in the National League Division Series, which begins Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

Utley, naturally, said he didn't care where he hit.

"Correct," he said. "It's one spot earlier in the lineup. It doesn't change your approach a whole lot. The goal is to try to get on base and drive in some runs if there are opportunities."

Utley also said he isn't disappointed to no longer be hitting third.

"Hunter has been swinging the bat well," he said. "He can do a lot of damage. So whatever is best for the team, I'm all for it."

Another reason Manuel moved Utley is because he needed to split up Utley and Ryan Howard, who both hit left-handed. In the past, Manuel could keep them together, even with the threat of a tough left-handed reliever facing them in the late innings, because Utley had been a .283/.392/.502 career hitter against lefties.

But Utley is hitting just .187/.293/.308 against left-handers this season.

"Just one of those years, I guess," he said.

Utley has been beaten up physically over the years, most notably with knee and hip injuries. The wear and tear could be catching up with him.

"Yeah, I don't know," he said. "We'll see."

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