Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel is unwilling to commit to a third baseman this early, but likes what he sees in new acquisition Wes Helms.
READING, Pa. – When answering questions about the new high-motor core of next year’s team, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is sure to include Wes Helms among the likes of Chase Utley, Aaron Rowand and Shane Victorino.
The 30-year-old third baseman signed as a free agent this offseason after a season that saw 10 homers, 47 RBIs and a .965 OPS in a part-time role with the Florida Marlins.
"Helms is a guy in the last two years, he’s changed his approach to hitting," Manuel said. "He’s a much better hitter; he hits for a high average now instead of going up there and swinging real hard trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark. He’s cut down on his swing; with two strikes he’ll hit the ball the other way. (He) works on hitting for a high average, and when he does that, his power will show up."
At this early stage, it’s difficult to guess how much time Helms will see at third, and Manuel would not commit when asked if the position would be decided in spring training. Abraham Nunez, who ended ended 2006 as the club’s third baseman, is still in the mix.
"Nunez came along after he started getting to play some," Manuel said. "He played tremendous defense, and not only that, was hitting better by the end of the year ... I feel like we got a better defense, especially if we play Victorino and Rowand both in the outfield. There’s Utley, Rollins and Howard, with Nunez at third, and Helms."