Dobbs makes first start of '09 season

Dobbs makes first start of '09 season

PHILADELPHIA -- It took 18 games to break into the starting lineup for Greg Dobbs.

The Phillies' stellar pinch-hitter was penciled in the No. 7 spot in manager Charlie Manuel's lineup card for Monday's game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

Manuel gave third baseman Pedro Feliz a breather after a torrid start.

"We had a chance to get him in there and get some at-bats," said Manuel, who noted the Nationals were starting right-hander Shairon Martis. "You can't go all year and get him so few at-bats. If he does that, it won't help him out as much as we need."

Dobbs entered Monday just 1-for-12 through 17 games. Last season, he had 226 at-bats in 126 games, hitting .301 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs. In addition to his pinch-hitting duties, he started 42 games.

Dobbs led the Major Leagues with 22 pinch-hits in 2008, while setting an all-time Phils record. The previous mark was 20 held by Doc Miller in 1913.

He's already tied for seventh in Phillies history with 37 pinch-hits, along with current general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and Dave Philley. Dobbs needs six more to tie Ricky Jordan for sixth place.

"It will be good for him to start," said Phils hitting coach Milt Thompson. "The thing about Greg is that he treats every game the same way. He prepares the same way. I think his mind-set is good. He's ready. It's obviously a good thing to get some extra at-bats, because it keeps you sharp."

Though Feliz is expected to be back at third base for Tuesday's game, Dobbs will be ready whenever called upon.

"He's a professional," Thompson said of Dobbs. "He's a professional hitter and he's professional with the way he carries himself. I'm not worried about him at all."

Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.