Last week, Juan Pierre was added to the Phillies' 40-man roster. Now, with his spot on the team assured, Pierre is out to show there is still plenty of tread left in his legs.
Pierre displayed his bat and wheels for the first time in Philadelphia with his new team and left quite an impression.
The 34-year-old leftfielder went 1 for 2 with a double and scored two runs as the Phillies earned a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates during Monday's exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park.
Manager Charlie Manuel has suggested that Pierre, who bats lefthanded, may do more than just play against righthanders. Pittsburgh started a lefthander, Tony Watson (who pitched only one inning), but Pierre was in the lineup.
"He has been getting on base - he makes things happen, and when he is getting hits and spraying the ball around, he brings energy and he has been playing good," Manuel said. "He kind of ticks the other team off."
Pierre admits that he was caught off guard with his lack of chances this offseason.
"It's the first time I have been in that position where I tried to be added onto a roster," he said. "I know how baseball is going these days; there isn't much of a premium put on guys who can run and do that stuff."
He's just happy he found a suitor.
"My game is my game, and I will ride it out until they don't want me anymore," he said. "I am glad they have given me the opportunity to play this spring, and ultimately they liked it enough."
Pierre, batting .373 this spring, refuses to get complacent.
"It can change - this is baseball," he said. "You don't get hits in a couple of games and you may be back in the same situation."
Pierre didn't wait long to showcase his speed, hitting a leadoff double to left in the first inning, advancing to third on Placido Polanco's fly ball, and scoring on Jimmy Rollins' sacrifice fly.
In the third inning, he was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on a double by Rollins, who was thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple.
With injured Chase Utley and Ryan Howard not ready to start the season, there may more of an emphasis on small ball - and that's where Pierre could play a key role.
After batting .279 with 27 stolen bases in 639 at-bats for the Chicago White Sox, Pierre had trouble finding off-season employment.
The Phillies offered him a chance to play his way onto the roster.
And he has run with the chance.
Despite the unFlorida-like weather, where the game-time temperature was 59 degrees, the Phillies were happy to be home.
"As [Tim] Tebow would say, 'We're excited,' " rightfielder Hunter Pence said before the game, quoting the Jets' new backup quarterback, who used the word repeatedly in describing his move to New York.
One person happy to be back on the mound was Monday's starter, Joe Blanton, who said the elbow injuries that limited him to 11 appearances and eight starts last year are behind him. He allowed two earned runs and three hits in 42/3 innings. Blanton threw 63 pitches - 45 for strikes - and said he has a clean bill of health this spring.
"I got my pitch count, threw all my pitches, and had no reservations physically," Blanton said.
He said he doesn't know when his first start will be or whether he will be used the first week in the bullpen, but Blanton says he will be ready for any role.
Lefthander Antonio Bastardo, who earlier had left forearm stiffness that the team blamed on dehydration, made his first appearance since Friday and struck out the only batter he faced, throwing five pitches.
"I feel good," Bastardo said.
Blanton and Pierre can echo that statement.
Matt Gelb, Bob Brookover, David Murphy rank the
top 25 Phillies' minor-league prospects. philly.com/
Links to Phillies multimedia coverage facebook.com/sportsinq
Phillies' Jim Thome optimistic about playing first base. D7.
PHILLIES AT PIRATES
1:35 p.m. (PHL17)
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @sjnard on Twitter.