Phillips having success in leadoff role

Phillips having success in leadoff role

Phillips having success in leadoff role
DENVER -- By any measure, the Brandon Phillips-as-leadoff hitter experiment has been a great success. But for Sunday's series finale against the Rockies, Phillips began the game on the bench.

"Just a day [off]," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I talked to him about it after [Saturday's] game. He's been playing a lot; he's been on base a lot. What's he hitting in the leadoff spot -- about .400? That's a lot of running around on the bases. He looked a little weary [on Saturday]. And it's a good time to see [Chris] Valaika at second base, too.

Since moving to the top of the batting order on Aug. 17, Phillips has hit safely in 21 of 23 games, and batted .354 (35 for 99) with eight doubles, one triple, one home run and 11 RBIs.

As for Phillips' future in that lineup spot, Baker was non-committal.

"It depends on if you can get something better [in the offseason]," Baker said. "It depends on if [Drew] Stubbs can cut down on the strikeouts. It depends on [Phillips'] contract. Until the contract is signed, you don't have a contract."

Phillips is in the final year of a four-year, $27-million deal, but the Reds hold a $12-million option on him for 2012, and are expected to exercise it.

Stubbs, who was back in the leadoff spot on Sunday, entered the game with 187 strikeouts in 559 at-bats.