CLEARWATER, Fla. — As Joe Girardi walked through the back corridors of the Phillies’ clubhouse Monday morning, he came upon Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins, dressed in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops, pantomiming phantom swings. Two hours later, Schwarber hit his first home run of spring training.

The manager was delighted.

“It was great. Talking hitting in the hallway. Using their legs in a swing, without a bat,” he said Tuesday morning. “I said to myself, ‘This is what it’s all about.’”

John Middleton assembled a half-a-billion-dollar lineup predicated on power, but these Broad Street Bombers aren’t just swinging blindly. They plan to handle the potent pitching staffs of teams like the Mets in the National League East with brains as much as with brawn.

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On Monday, for instance, Orioles starter Dean Kremer needed 60 pitches to make it through three innings. He gave up just three runs, but the first time through the lineup Phillies hitters faced an average of 4.7 pitches. Both Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, whom the Phillies landed for $179 million two weeks ago, homered. Girardi was more relieved by the more mundane.

“It was great to see both of those impact the game,” Girardi said. But … “Schwarbs walked.”

Weird, right? Well, sort of.

Assembly-line hitting

Girardi believes the best lineups “pass the baton.” This lineup does that.

They see lots of pitches. They hit pitches they like. They spit on pitches they don’t. They consider a base on balls a win because they trust the next guy to do his job. And they’re doing the job.

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The Phillies scored 7.8 runs per game in the last five games in which most of the big hitters played. Besides the two newcomers, virtually everybody else homered: Bryce Harper, J.T Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Didi Gregorius, and even prospects Mickey Moniak and Bryson Stott. The long ball wasn’t what Girardi dug most.

In the same game that Stott homered, he drew a bases-loaded walk. That’s the sort of discipline that might earn him a spot on the big club.

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“What I love … is how deep they get into counts. What our guys are doing to pitchers, I really like,” Girardi said. “And the hits have been extra-base hits. Put that together with some walks, and you’re going to score some runs.”

Reticence, rewarded

Phillies fans saw Girardi’s words come to life when their team returned to the playoffs in 2007 for the first time in 13 years. The 2007 team led the National League with 3.87 pitches per plate appearance. It also scored 892 runs, the most the franchise had seen since 1930. That Phillies team returned largely intact and won the World Series in 2008. They returned in 2009 and lost to Girardi’s Yankees. That Yankees team, anchored by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada, saw 3.88 pitches per plate appearance.

As Girardi stood on the Yankees’ spring training field Tuesday he was asked if he saw similarities between the 2009 Yanks and the 2022 Phils.

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“You know, I do,” Girardi said. “There’s power. There’s on-base guys. Not necessarily the 50-stolen-base guy, but guys who know how to run the bases.”

Girardi paused.

“Let’s hope they’re really similar when it’s over.”

The 2009 Yankees averaged more than 32 years of age, so they’d seen some things. Not coincidentally, the meat of the Phillies’ lineup averages just a tick over 30, and they’re not just dinger dudes. They’re professional hitters. Harper led all major leaguers in OPS, Castellanos was eighth, Schwarber, 10th, and Hoskins, 34th.

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“It’s just a lot of wisdom,” Girardi said.

It’s wisdom earned by batters who understand that discretion in the box reaps rewards.

Mileage matters

“You’ve got a lot of guys here with a lot of games under their belt who are really good hitters,” Schwarber said.

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They’ll need to be great hitters to survive the Mets’ starting rotation, which added three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and All-Star Chris Bassitt to a rotation headed by two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob DeGrom. The Phillies hope to make those starters work hard early to get to the bullpen. Considering the condensed schedule precipitated by the lockout and the expected limited pitch counts for starters early in the season, they hope to outlast tiring arms as three-game series unfold.

“Especially with fewer off days, if we can get to the ‘pen, especially early in the first game [of a series], it’s setting us up to keep grinding out that starter,” Schwarber said. “Get in the ‘pen early in Game 2 or Game 3, and wear these guys down a little bit. If we’re going to do what we need to do offensively, we’ve got to grind.”

That requires not just team-wide adherence to a hitting philosophy but also faith in the ability of the rest of the roster.

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“Throughout 162 games, yeah, there’s gonna be points where we’re all going to be clicking. But there’s gonna be points where, say, I’m gonna be off, and maybe somebody else is gonna be off,” Schwarber said. “But that’s the beauty of this lineup: Even if we do have one or two guys going through a little grind, you’ve got seven or eight other dudes who can pick each other up. We can keep putting pressure on the pitcher.”

Schwarber smiled, then nodded toward the lockers to his left — Macho Row, 2.0.

“I guarantee you,” he said, a menacing smile appearing through his beard, “nobody in here is scared.”