MINNEAPOLIS - There was no specific reason, Charlie Manuel said, for hitting Michael Young atop his batting order for the fifth straight game Tuesday. Young has accumulated hits there (8 in 16 at-bats), so the manager decided it was best to not disrupt success.
Young was last a leadoff hitter nine years ago, and his current numbers makes him a fit for the role.
"They say you always fall back to what you originally were," Manuel said. "What comes around comes back around."
Young is walking at a higher rate than at any point during his 14-year career. He is hitting for average. He is not hitting for power. Those variables make him a top-of-the-order guy.
The Phillies, of course, did not acquire Young to be their leadoff man. They envisioned a veteran presence who could drive the ball and bat lower in the lineup. Third base is a prototypical power position; no third baseman was a regular leadoff hitter in 2012.
Whether Young, 36, is simply trudging through a cold stretch or experiencing the downside of a fruitful career is to be determined. Young's .360 slugging percentage ranked 136th among 164 qualified hitters entering play Tuesday. Combined with last season, Young is slugging .367 in his last 213 games. He slugged .451 from 2000 to 2011.
"He'll hit streaks where he'll get some balls up in the air," Manuel said. "I've said that before. In Boston he hit a ball off the Monster and a home run. I think it's just a matter of time. I think he will start getting balls up in the air more."
This season, when Young puts the ball in play, it is a ground ball 58.5 percent of the time. That is the highest rate, by far, of his career. It is the sixth-highest rate among all qualified hitters in 2013. His 13 double plays are second-most in baseball, behind only St. Louis' Matt Holliday.
Hitting at the top of the order, theoretically, should lessen his chance of bouncing into one. But there will be runners on base regardless of where Young hits.
Carlos Ruiz (hamstring) participated in a strenuous workout during early batting practice. He swung the bat, ran the bases, tested his lateral movement on the warning track, and made throws to second base from behind the plate.
Ruiz said Sunday he hoped to start a minor-league rehab assignment this weekend at triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Erik Kratz will undergo surgery to repair a torn meniscus (cartilage) in his left knee Wednesday morning in Philadelphia. The team will determine a timetable for his return after the operation. . . . John Lannan (left knee strain) will make his second rehab start Wednesday at double-A Reading. . . . Carlos Zambrano will make his fourth minor-league start at Lehigh Valley on Thursday. The Phillies have until July 1 to promote Zambrano until he can ask for his release. He could come to the majors as a reliever.