PITTSBURGH The Phillies' opening-day lineup has been posted and it reveals one of the basic tenets of Charlie Manuels managerial style: confidence building.
Manuel is using John Mayberry Jr. as his leftfielder even after a difficult exhibition season in which Mayberry hit just .203 with a .259 on-base percentage and a .304 slugging percentage.
After hitting .309 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs in his last 55 games in 2011, Mayberry came into spring training as the favorite to be the starting leftfielder. Late in camp, it appeared as if Juan Pierre might have won at least a share of the job and that still may be the case but Mayberry is Manuels man on Opening Day. It is a classic Psychology 101 Manuel move: Stick with a guy, get him feeling good mentally and maybe good things will follow.
The decision to use Mayberry over Pierre makes baseball sense because the Pirates are throwing lefty Erik Bedard. Mayberry hits right-handed and Pierre hits left-handed. Pierre, however, hits lefties well -- .329 in 146 at-bats last season -- certainly well enough to start against one of them. The belief here is that on Day 1 of the season, Manuel did not want to create the impression that he is giving up on Mayberry. Well see if it pays dividends.
Manuel could have started both Pierre and Mayberry by using Mayberry at first base. Right-handed hitting Ty Wigginton, however, gets the nod at first. Maybe Jim Thome gets the call at first Saturday night against righthander Jeff Karstens. Pierre could make his debut in the starting lineup then, as well.
Heres the Phillies opening-day lineup:
Hunter Pence RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
John Mayberry Jr. LF
Carlos Ruiz C