PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies third baseman Cody Asche picked up two hits in Tuesday's victory over the Cubs, but he was not in Wednesday's lineup.
The reason was pretty simple. The Cubs had left-hander Travis Wood on the mound and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel wants to bring the left-handed-hitting Asche along slowly. It is the same tactic employed early in the careers of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.
Utley started 36 games in 2003, but just two against left-handers. He started 57 games in 2004, just seven against left-handers. Howard started five games in 2004, just one against a left-hander. He started 79 in 2005, with 14 against left-handers.
"I know he can hit them," Manuel said of Asche. "I just want to go slow with him for a while, let him get a good feel for what he's doing. I've seen times when you turn guys loose and they don't respond good. I think it's better to kind of take it easy with him, let him see if he can't have some success before you turn him loose.
"That's what my experience has told me. I've seen some players be turned loose in the big leagues and they have trouble right from the start and it really sets them back. I'm not saying that would happen to Asche, but why should I take a chance with him? He'll tell you when he's ready to be turned loose. He'll tell you when he's ready to be moved up in the order and things like that."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.