Struggling at plate, Pence gets day off to recharge

Struggling at plate, Pence gets day off to recharge

ATLANTA -- Hunter Pence got a break Sunday at Turner Field, and it wasn't because a trade was imminent.

Manager Charlie Manuel started Laynce Nix in right field for the team's series finale against the Braves. Pence has nine hits in his last 59 at-bats (.153), although he has nine RBIs in that stretch. Keeping him out of the starting lineup Sunday means Pence will get a two-day break with no game scheduled Monday.

"I wanted to sit him down," Manuel said. "He's been trying. He tries real hard. He tries too hard. Let his mind take a break today and tomorrow."

Pence's name has circulated in trade rumors, but it is believed the Phillies would have to be compensated richly to move him. He remains under the team's control next season, and he is the team's only right-handed power bat other than Carlos Ruiz, who is having a career year. If the club trades an outfielder before Tuesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre are more likely candidates.

Sunday was Nix's first start since rejoining the team after missing more than two months with a strained left calf muscle.

"I've got to play him," Manuel said.

Nix also entered the afternoon hitting .333 (7-for-21) with one home run and four RBIs in his career against Braves right-hander Tim Hudson.