Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Juan Pierre (10) signs autographs before the game against the New York Yankees at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
The Philadelphia Phillies are really good. Every year, they're really good. But even the Philadelphia Phillies have problems. Case in point? This spring, they're facing a terrible dilemma: Unless something strange and unpleasant happens, they won't be able to keep both Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik on their 25-man roster once the season gets going. Which means there's a battle in camp this spring. With ... only ... one ... winner.
Todd Zolecki and Chris Girandola (via MLB.com):
Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik each went 1-for-3 on Monday as the two continue to battle for a bench spot with the Phillies.
"They're going to start getting a lot more playing time so now's the time for them to show what they can do," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Somewhere in my Googling the subject of position battles, I found a link (now elusive) suggesting that spring-training position battles are quickly becoming a quaint historical artifact. I didn't actually see the article, but will presume the premise was that with teams now inundated by information, they're sure as hell not going to let a few dozen at-bats in March determine something so important as a precious spot on the Opening Day roster.
I suppose position battles are less common now than before. But as long as you've got a manager talking about players in the middle 30s showing what they can do in the last three weeks of March, the position battle is alive and kicking. Or at least twitching.
That's really all I wanted to say about this. Juan Pierre is 34, and still runs the bases pretty well. Scott Podsednik is 35, and still runs the bases pretty well. Still plays a decent outfield, too. Both of them bat left-handed. Both of them are somewhat miscast on a team that's expecting to win yet another division title. Whoever wins the coveted spot isn't likely to still have that spot into the stretch run.
This is one of those things that's important to the players involved, moderately interesting to the manager, and pretty much irrelevant to everyone else on the planet. Still, once "battles" like this are gone, I suspect that we'll miss them.
Oh. Almost forgot. My money's on Juan Pierre. Because he looks faster. And signs autographs better.