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Girardi, Phillies ‘flirting’ with having J.T. Realmuto lead off


J.T. Realmuto had an excellent first season in Philadelphia. (Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies lineup might have an unconventional look to start the regular season.

In an interview on SportsRadio 94 WIP on Wednesday morning, manager Joe Girardi told host Angelo Cataldi that the Phillies may give catcher J.T. Realmuto a look as the leadoff hitter until outfielder Andrew McCutchen fully recovers from his ACL injury.

Girardi mentioned that he has been doing it in Spring Training with Realmuto in order to get him plenty of at-bats early in games to avoid catching too many innings, and that Realmuto has embraced it: “I’ve done that with him and he said he kind of liked it in Florida when he did it. So that’s something I’m flirting with […]”

Realmuto is slotted in the leadoff spot for Thursday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays. On Wednesday, Realmuto led off the game with a home run and finished 3-3.

As Phillies Nation Editorial Director Tim Kelly noted, Realmuto has had plenty of success hitting out of the leadoff spot during his career:

Girardi did not mention other options to bat leadoff while the Phillies await McCutchen’s return, but made sure to note that he wants Bryce Harper hitting second or third. The most natural fit after Realmuto would be Jean Segura. Segura had a down year in 2019, but has a .346 on-base percentage over his last four seasons and has the above average speed tool of a prototypical leadoff hitter.

Last season, Segura, Harper, Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery all spent some time leading off (in addition to Cesar Hernandez), but none were able to produce near McCutchen’s level, which played a role in the Phillies decline throughout the season:

With only three weeks remaining until Opening Day, Girardi and the Phillies need to figure out a plan to avoid the struggles the team faced at the top of the order when McCutchen went down last June.

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