PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — Juan Pierre came into the Phillies’ spring training camp without a major league job. A return to a familiar spot in the lineup might be just what he needs to convince the team to take him to Philadelphia.
Pierre batted leadoff and played center field for a split squad of Phillies, coming through with two hits, two RBIs and scored two runs in two innings of a 6-6 tie with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.
“I got a chance to lead off today the first time this spring and to actually play center field which I haven’t done in a couple of years so it felt like old times out there for me, so I felt comfortable,” the 34-year-old Pierre said. “That’s my goal when I lead off games, trying to get stuff started early.”
Pierre, a non-roster invitee in his 13th season, said he’s approaching this spring training as he would any other.
“Even when I had deals I had to go out and prove myself to start still,” he said. “I just try to approach it like pretty much every spring training. Try to get my work in and be ready to play whenever they need me.”
Also competing for a spot as a non-roster invitee, Joel Pineiro pitched two innings, giving up one run on two hits and a walk. He had one strikeout.
“Every time you get out there you feel better and better,” Pineiro said. “My command was a little off today. My off-speed was really good. I was getting behind hitters, I threw too many pitches, so that’s something to keep working on, trying to do whatever they want me to do coming out of the pen or start. I still got to go out and prove I can get people out. There’s no room for error. You’ve got to go out there and have a good outing.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon was happy with his offense, which is off to slow start this spring.
Luke Scott got his first hit with the Rays and the team had 12 overall. Sam Fuld and Reid Brignac both went 2 for 3.
“All those little things matter,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Getting the signs right, playing the game properly, playing nine innings hard to the very end was all apparent today.”
Wade Davis, on the other hand, struggled. In four innings, the right-hander gave up four runs — three earned — on eight hits and struck out three.
Davis is vying for the fifth spot in the Rays’ rotation, and the 26-year-old said he knows what he needs to work on.
“I physically felt good,” Davis said. “A little sluggish at first getting into it, but after we got going I got a better rhythm. Executing the curveball was better, and everything was a little bit sharper. I’ve just got to sharpen up a little bit on my spots, my fastball, and I think we’ll be in a pretty good place.”
NOTES: Rays LF Desmond Jennings and CF B.J. Upton didn’t play Thursday after their collision on the left-center field warning track on Wednesday. . Domonic Brown was a late scratch for the Phillies with neck stiffness.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.