Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Manager Establishes Order for Suns; Five Games into the Season, Shoemaker Is Still Experimenting

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Manager Establishes Order for Suns; Five Games into the Season, Shoemaker Is Still Experimenting

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT

There's a baseball clubhouse joke that circulates throughout the minor leagues, in which a position player who is batting ninth - with a designated hitter in the lineup - is asked, "Hey, you know who's hitting in front of you today? EVERYBODY!"

The manager determines who might be the brunt of such jokes as well as who bats in the other eight spots in the lineup.

It's not a simple task. A lot of factors must be taken into consideration when assembling the lineup, especially early in the season, when a manager is still getting to know a player's skills.

Jacksonville Suns manager John Shoemaker has been putting together lineups for one of the Dodgers' minor-league teams for 16 of the 30 years he's been associated with the National League club.

"In the minor leagues, it really shouldn't matter where you bat," Shoemaker said. "But I know it does to players. In the Dodgers' organization, we have certain players that you need to bat in a certain spot in the batting order. Guys that are considered prospects.

"But the Dodgers let their managers make out their own lineup. They may tell you not to bat a guy any lower than sixth in the order just to make sure he gets his at-bats. But we're not told this guy needs to bat first, second, third or eighth."

Five games into the season, Shoemaker is still experimenting with his club. Some of the Suns players are new to the organization, and it will take several series until the Suns manager has a good feel for who should bat in what spot.

"When I come to the park, I don't really have a set lineup that I'm going to use every day, especially right now," he said. "It's nice when you can have a set lineup because it means that your team is pretty good and you have a lot of hitting. Last year's team had a lot of good hitters. It was pretty easy to make out your lineup. …

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