Luna is a career .269 hitter with 14 home runs. But in the 24 at-bats he'd gotten since being called up from Lehigh Valley on May 11, Luna had hit .375 with a grand slam home run and nine RBI.
These days, that's enough to qualify for a shot at batting in the four spot for the Phillies.
It worked out just as well as you would have expected.
Luna went 0-3 with a walk and the Phillies lost to Miami, 5-1, at Citizens Bank Park. His batting average dropped 42 points to .333.
Luna said he was OK being penciled in at four because, "It's still hitting, no matter where you bat."
Luna noted he did have some major league experience hitting cleanup when he played for St. Louis.
That would've back in 2004 (2-for-5 batting cleanup), '05 (2-for-4) and maybe '06 (1-for-3 for the Cardinals and/or the Indians). He also had one four-hole at-bat each for the Blue Jays in 2007 and the Marlins in 2010.
You could say that Luna's insertion into the order was in part because of timing.
Carlos Ruiz, who batted cleanup Saturday night, has gotten the day off for afternoon games after night games off for years.
And with the Phillies facing the third of 10 games in 10 days, it makes sense that you also might want to give a break to 34-year-old first baseman Ty Wigginton, who had started nine of the previous 10 games.
Whether or not you do it on the same day, leaving Luna as your choice for cleanup hitter, is another conversation.
"I just wanted to give Wigginton a day off, and Luna has been hitting good," Manuel said.
I wasn't going to respond with the required, "Yeah, but he's Hector Luna." Oops, I guess I couldn't help myself. My bad.
Perhaps Manuel should have asked Miami manager Ozzie Guillen if he could borrow Marlins starter Carlos Zambrano to be his cleanup hitter. Zambrano had two hits, including a solo home run off Phillies starter Joe Blanton to lead off the third inning.
Said Blanton, who gave up five earned runs for the fifth consecutive start: "You never want to give up five runs, but I felt like it was a huge improvement over the way I threw the last two or three times.
"Even though the results don't look like much better, I felt like it was a lot better."
Blanton said the Zambrano home run and the one that Handley Ramirez hit on an 0-2 count were the pitches he wanted to throw because both were balls, even if they got redirected out of the ballpark.
That's what passes for logical thinking around the Phillies as they continue to insist it's still early in the season while they struggle to find consistency.
The confusion over what's going on within the organization manifested itself again Sunday with another bizarre incident in the never-ending drama of Utley and his super-secretive knee rehabilitation.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the other day that Utley had not personally told him what his status was. Manuel was asked in his postgame press conference if he had any idea about the second baseman's health.
"No, I don't," Manuel said. "I've talked to him, but I don't know too much about that. I've asked him. He just says, 'I'm not there, yet.' He says, 'I'm getting better, but I'm not there, yet.' "
I will assume Manuel was shocked to find out that a little more than 15 minutes after he'd said what he said, Utley pulled the media together in the locker room to announce that he was heading to Clearwater, Fla., for extended spring training.
Utley, who has been doing workouts and running with the team, said his knees have felt better the past 10 days, so now would be a good time to test them.
Utley reiterated that there was still no timetable on when he might be ready to join the active roster, but his declaration still served to make Manuel look clueless in hindsight.
Before Manuel's press conference, the Phillies announced that catcher Erik Kratz had been optioned to Lehigh Valley to create a roster spot for Vance Worley, who will start tonight against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
You'd have to believe that if the Phillies knew of Utley's intentions at the time, they would have at least informed Manuel, who might have handled the Utley question differently.
It's possible that Utley talked to Manuel just before he went to the media.
You'd hope he did.
Even if Utley didn't, I'm sure that's how the Phillies are going to spin it if it becomes an issue Monday.
Still, when the fact that Hector Luna had "seen [Zambrano] before" at some point during his limited major league career can be given as a valid reason for batting him cleanup, anything goes.
Contact John Smallwood at firstname.lastname@example.org. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/Smallwood.