Aaron Rowand is just 2-20 with his new team this spring with a high number of strikeouts. If he continues to struggle, it wouldn’t be a bad play to ease him into full-time duty by giving Victorino more time against right-handed pitching.
Rowand is undoubtedly the center fielder of choice, but the Phillies could do well leaving some of his strikeouts and low on-base percentage on the bench if the team feels he is not seeing the ball correctly. He’s not an ideal No. 2 hitter, which is where he’s been penciled in by Charlie Manuel. The team is losing close to .70 OBP over last season’s duo of Jason Michaels and Kenny Lofton if Rowand produces what he did last season (.329)
On the other hand, last season’s International League MVP could be a very nice switch-hitting No. 2, with good speed and potentially little loss of defense in center field.
If Rowand’s timing is not where it should be, and Victorino looks ready, the Phillies should not sacrifice a spot in the lineup just so Rowand can work it out. I’m ready for the Phillies to explode from the gate, and if Manuel feels something is off with his new center fielder, he should do what it takes to make sure the bottom line is met, and the bottom line is winning.
Hopefully, it’s much ado about nothing and Rowand adjusts by opening day. Odds are, he will, but expect to see a lot more of Victorino at the corners than we did of Jason Michaels. Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell are not spring chickens.