"I look at Hunter as someone who's strong," Manuel said. "He swings the bat. He's aggressive. He runs a little bit better than Ruiz and Howard. . . . That allows Pierre to bunt or [it] might give us a chance to hit and run, too."
To replace Pierre, Manuel moved Victorino to the No. 2 hole. The outfielder has spent most of the year batting third or fifth, but about half of his at-bats in his nine-year career have come hitting second.
Manuel said he wants Victorino hitting second again because that is the spot in which he batted when the Phillies' lineup was prolific in the past. Because Howard and Chase Utley are back, Manuel said it was a good time to bring back the vibes from the Phillies' previous division championship runs.
Manuel was hopeful before Friday's game that seeing the names of Howard and Utley scribbled on the lineup card would bring swagger to the rest of the Phillies.
"Both of those guys are positive guys," Manuel said. "They are very positive. They have self confidence, and they bring that. . . . Guys do follow one another. I think the respect that they have for one another definitely helps. When we get Utley and Howard back in the clubhouse and in the lineup, I think things are going to flow better."
Manuel also moved Ruiz to the No. 5 spot to ensure that the Braves don't pitch around Howard. Ruiz, who ranks third in the NL with a .355 average, has been the Phillies' cleanup hitter as of late. As hot as Ruiz has been, Manuel figures, teams will have to throw strikes to Howard.
Catcher Brian Schneider, out with a high right ankle sprain, said he hopes to join the team in Colorado Friday for the Phillies' first series after the all-star break. Schneider said he is much closer to a return than some reports indicate.
"My goal is to join the team on the road trip," he said. "But that's my goal. I don't know if that's the team goal or the trainer goal. I don't know."
Schneider said he has hit in the batting cage and plans to catch a bullpen session in the next couple of days. Still, a checklist of obstacles awaits. He needs to hit on the field, run the bases, practice sliding, and show he can block balls.
During the break, Schneider said he could go to Clearwater to rehab. The class-A Threshers' next home game is Wednesday.
Less rest for Utley
Manuel said Utley will probably start all three games this weekend. Since Utley returned June 27, he has yet to play three games in a row. The looming four-day break plays a factor.
"He's definitely scheduled to play [Saturday]," Manuel said. "[He] and I will definitely think about [playing all three games]."
The Phillies' 6-5 loss to the Mets on Thursday marked the first time this season the team lost after leading through eight innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Before the loss, the Phillies were 35-0 in such situations. . . . Closer Jonathan Papelbon is 18 of 20 in save opportunities. He also blew a game by surrendering a pair of runs to the Rays in the top of the ninth on June 23, but Jim Thome bailed him out of that contest with a walk-off home run. . . . Infielder Hector Luna was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley to clear space for Howard's return.
Contact Tyler Jett at 215-854-4550 or firstname.lastname@example.org