Werth bats third for first time in '08

Werth bats third for first time in '08

WASHINGTON -- For the first three months of the season, Chase Utley claimed exclusive ownership of the No. 3 spot in the Phillies' batting order.

Lately, however, manager Charlie Manuel has been inclined to shuffle his lineup a bit. On Tuesday, the Phils' hot-hitting right fielder, Jayson Werth, got a turn batting third for the first time this season.

Manuel had tried using Pat Burrell, a right-handed hitter, in the No. 3 hole last month -- a move that allowed him to separate the left-handed Utley and Ryan Howard in the order. Burrell, however, has struggled at the plate recently and was back in his normal No. 5 spot for Tuesday's game.

Werth, who also swings right-handed, has put up numbers lately that show him to be deserving of the No. 3 spot. Entering Tuesday, he was hitting .444 (12-for-27) with four home runs and nine RBIs in his past eight games.

Manuel also likes how Werth stacks up against Nats lefty John Lannan, who got the nod Tuesday. Fifteen of Werth's career-high 21 home runs this season have come against left-handers. In 2008, Werth is hitting .313 (40-for-128) against lefties.

"I didn't seen any reason not to put him there," Manuel said of the No. 3 spot.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.