By Michael Donovan
Emmanuel Burriss is fighting for a chance to make the Phillies’ opening day roster.
“I consider myself a super-utility [man] anyway,” Burriss told MLB.com.
Burriss, 31, started Thursday night’s game in center field as the Phillies try to figure out if he can play the outfield well enough to warrant a roster spot. Injuries to Aaron Altherr and Cody Asche have the Phillies looking at Darnell Sweeney and non-roster invitees Cedric Hunter, David Lough, Ryan Jackson and Burriss for the final two bench jobs.
“You know as an extra guy in the National League you want versatility, so I want to get a good look at him to see if he can play in the outfield,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said about Burriss. “I know he plays solid defense in the infield, anywhere he plays.”
But Burriss also has helped himself offensively, entering the night hitting .323 (10-for-31) with three doubles, one triple, two RBIs, two walks, six strikeouts and an .866 OPS.
“I feel good,” Burriss said. “I think just to be the type of player I am, moving around the entire field has never been a big problem for me. I’ve been getting the reps in since I’ve been in professional baseball. Even though I haven’t been out there in games, I’ve been getting the work in. I feel really confident.”
Burriss hasn’t started a game in the outfield in the big leagues. He has started only 13 games there in his Minor League career. But he entered Thursday having played five games there this spring.
“When I talked to Pete in the offseason, we talked about really displaying some versatility,” Burriss said. “I think it would be tense if I wasn’t prepared. I don’t think anybody is really pressing, because I think everybody came into camp prepared. I don’t think anybody has really taken their names out of the ranks.”
Burriss, who has hit .245 with a .578 OPS in parts of six seasons with the Giants and Nationals, certainly hasn’t. He has a chance to win a job with a little more than a week to go before Opening Day.