Things can change between now and Opening Day, but there is no harm in discussing what the Phillies' lineup might be, especially after Thursday's news that they had signed Michael Saunders to a one-year, $9 million contract.
"Yeah, I'm starting to play around with it," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said on Monday night. "Where am I going to hit Saunders? Where am I going to hit [Maikel] Franco? Do I hit [Saunders] behind to protect Franco or do I hit [Howie] Kendrick behind to protect Franco? Do I protect Franco? Who do I protect? It'll all depend on the rest of the team, the guys on the bench. Their makeup will determine how I'll determine where to hit a guy in the lineup.
"Of course, looking at seven and eight -- do I hit Freddy [Galvis] eighth or [Cameron] Rupp eighth? That's going to be a tough one."
But there is no question Saunders' arrival will change the look of the Phils' lineup, no matter where he hits.
"Yeah, I think it's going to be good for the young hitters," Mackanin said, referring to the offseason acquisitions of veterans Kendrick and Saunders. "It'll give us an opportunity to give the young players -- Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens -- we won't feel like we have to push them. Hopefully they'll push us to force the issue. I think that's a great position to be in, rather than saying, 'Well, let's just take a shot at it.' Let's make sure they're ready so they stay here."
Quinn figured to be the Opening Day right fielder if the Phillies had not acquired Saunders. But with Saunders in the fold, assuming he passes his physical, Quinn is expected to open the season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"I don't think it's in our best interest or his to be a part-time player at the big league level," Mackanin said. "So I'd think that if things stay the way they are and if Saunders is on the team, I think it would behoove him to play a year in Triple-A. We've got to find out if he can play 120, 140 games, which he hasn't done up to this point. But I certainly hope he'd be able to, because he's a potential game changer on the field."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.