Why is Zack Greinke batting ninth for the Dodgers on Thursday?
He is the pitcher, of course, and that is where pitchers bat. But, in the lineup the Dodgers fielded Thursday in an early start against the Reds, Greinke could be batting seventh or eighth.
Instead, Manager Don Mattingly is batting catcher Tim Federowicz (and his .123 average) seventh, with shortstop and career minor leaguer Miguel Rojas eighth.
Mattingly said Greinke could hit higher in the lineup — "he really is that good," Mattingly said — but did not want to burden him with the pressure to produce at bat as well as on the mound.
"For us, right now, it wouldn't be the right thing," Mattingly said. "As good as Zack is, he's still going up there once every five days. He's not working on his hitting."
Greinke last year won a Silver Slugger award, presented to the best hitter at each position. He batted .328, with a .379 slugging percentage and a .409 on-base percentage.
"There are times you would like to use him as a pinch-hitter," Mattingly said. "Then, if he takes one in the ribs, you're trying to figure out seven innings every five days, and you're going to kick yourself."
In 25 at-bats this season, Greinke has five hits (.200 average), including four doubles, and three strikeouts.
In 57 at-bats, Federowicz has seven hits, including three doubles and a home run, and 12 strikeouts. He is batting .202 in parts of four major league seasons, with a .313 slugging percentage and .254 on-base percentage.
Rojas has two hits in his first six major league at-bats. In nine minor league seasons, he is batting .235, with a .297 slugging percentage and a .305 on-base percentage. He is starting in place of Hanley Ramirez, whom the Dodgers say has an irritated right shoulder.
Rojas can run, and batting him ninth would give the Dodgers a chance to score a run if he got on base and leadoff batter Dee Gordon doubled. Under Hall of Fame Manager Tony La Russa, the St. Louis Cardinals often batted the pitcher eighth, with similar thinking.