Phillies outfielder Peter Bourjos delivers in rare role for franchise

By: Matt Rappa, managing editor

PHILADELPHIA It was a gamble, but it ultimately paid off for manager Pete Mackanin and the Philadelphia Phillies.

For just the fourth time in franchise history, a position player batted ninth in the Phillies' starting lineup as they opposed 19-year veteran RHP Bartolo Colon and the New York Mets Wednesday evening at Citizens Bank Park.

A move forever tied in concept to legendary Hall of Fame manager and two-time World Series champion with the St. Louis Cardinals, Tony LaRussa, the Phillies player subjected to the unfamiliar batting position was right fielder Peter Bourjos, who was selected off waivers this offseason from the same club.

And unlike his three predecessors, middle-infielders Blondy Ryan (1935), Del Young (1937) and Bud Harrelson (1979), Bourjos came through huge for his club.

While Ryan, Young and Harrelson combined for just two hits both singles in 10 plate appearances, Bourjos doubled the hit total on Wednesday in a big way.

His RBI-single in the bottom of the seventh inning tied the game at three, forcing the Phillies to their second extra-innings game of the season.

Four innings later in the bottom of the 11th, Bourjos delivered again with a walk-off, infield single to third base.

Mackanin put Bourjos in such a foreign role simply to try to "jump-start" an offense which has struggled so far this season in almost every offensive statistical category.

Stephen Gross of The Morning Call writes:

Mackanin said before the game he was just looking for something to jump start the offense and didn't look at batting the pitcher eighth and Bourjos as a long-term solution. Although he didn't commit to what his lineup might look like next time out.

"It worked out tonight," Mackanin said. "We'll see. Once [Bourjos] starts swinging the bat better, like I know he can, then I probably won't do that. It just happened to fall into place tonight.

Expect Bourjos to return as the Phillies' ninth hitter as they open a three-game series against right-hander Zach Davies and the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on Friday.