PHILADELPHIA -- Juan Pierre started in left field for the Phillies on Monday for the third time in four games, begging the question of whether the veteran may be ahead of John Mayberry for the regular job going into the season.
"I think [Mayberry] is going to have a chance to become a regular player," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Ruben [Amaro Jr., general manager] and I talked about that."
Mayberry, the presumed heir to Raul Ibanez's spot, batted .273 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs over 104 games for the Phillies in 2011.
"I think from how he played last year, I think he has earned a right to do that," Manuel said. "He may not be an everyday starter starting out, but he's going to play a lot and he'll be given every chance in the world to be an everyday player."
Mayberry entered Monday's game against the Pirates batting .200 with one home run and nine RBIs this spring.
"Because he struggled in Spring Training, that doesn't mean a whole lot to me because there are going to be times during the regular season he will be struggling," Manuel said. "I used to have to sit Jayson Werth and Pat Burrell. Jim Thome has struggled in his career, but that's the way you get through those things.
"An everyday player has to handle everything physically, and slumps and errors and everything, that's the way I look at it. It's up to him to hold that spot, too. That's shows you have become a regular player."
Mayberry came to the plate with an insurance run at third in the seventh inning of Monday's 4-3 win over the Pirates, and popped out. With one exhibition to go, it would appear Mayberry will welcome the fresh start of the regular season, whether or not he is in the starting lineup Thursday in Pittsburgh.
It is presumed that with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out indefinitely, the power that Mayberry can provide will give him every opportunity to prove he can be the left fielder. But Manuel also talked about the need to manufacture runs, which is what has brought Pierre to Philadelphia for a 12th Major League season of fine table-setting.
Thus in the manager's meritocracy, an Opening Day start in Pittsburgh on Thursday means just that.