Versatile Pierre could earn more playing time
Manuel may use speedy veteran outfielder in leadoff spot
TAMPA, Fla. -- Juan Pierre insists he could not care less how many at-bats he receives as a Phillies outfielder.
Could be 30 a week. Could be once a month.
"It doesn't matter," he said before Friday night's Grapefruit League game against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "I'll be fresh. If I get one at-bat a month, I feel I've prepared enough to at least have a good at-bat to go in there. Because if you start looking at it that way, you're just setting yourself up for excuses: 'Oh, I haven't had an at-bat.' No, this is what it is. This is the situation you're in. Deal with it. If it's one at-bat a month against the nastiest closer out there, go up there and fight. Fight until you can't fight no more."
The Phillies informed Pierre on Thursday he had made the Opening Day roster. If he had not made the roster, he could have asked for his release.
But now that Pierre -- who had four hits in Friday's 13-9 loss -- is on the roster, what is the plan?
He ranks fifth on the outfield depth chart behind Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix, but everything is fluid these days with runs at a premium and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard sidelined indefinitely with injuries. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made it clear Friday that if you hit, you will play.
"What the hell? Our expectation is to win," Manuel said. "We have to try to put the best team on the field every day. It's always good to be good enough to develop some players as you go along. But at the same time, you should be ready to play here. We're in this to win. Go ask ownership. We're not in it to mess around. Keep your job. Make sure you stay out there. That's what the game's about. It's not about feeling sorry or hurting people's feelings."
Pierre could steal time from Mayberry and Nix in left field. Mayberry, who will be seeing some time at first base while Howard is out, is hitting .188 (13-for-69) with four doubles and eight RBIs, while Nix is hitting .186 (8-for-43) with one double and two RBIs. Pierre is hitting .313 (15-for-48) with one double and two RBIs.
But even if Mayberry and Nix are producing, it is not difficult to see Pierre getting a couple of starts a week.
He hit leadoff Friday. Jimmy Rollins hit third.
Having Pierre hit leadoff occasionally makes sense because it gives Manuel another hitter (Rollins) that can drive the ball in the middle of his lineup.
Manuel could use some of that.
"When I do my lineups, there are positions there where I like Pierre," Manuel said. "Pierre has done a lot of things. He knows all about the game. He's going to stay ready. He works his butt off. He comes to the ballpark early. He wants to play. However we want to use him, I feel like he fits that."
But if the playing time doesn't come for Pierre, he said he can handle his time on the bench.
"I've done it before," Pierre said. "Two years in [Los Angeles] I was a role guy [with the Dodgers]. I have experience with that. Whatever role they want me to be in, I'll be prepared and ready for whenever they call me. That's what I can control. If I'm ready to go mentally and physically, I like my chances."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.