PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez batted second in the Pirates' lineup against the Phillies on Thursday, marking the first time in his 14-game Major League career he wasn't hitting sixth.
"Obviously I'm just excited to get in the lineup and get an opportunity to be up there, no matter what spot it is," Alvarez said. "It's just another day to try to learn and do the best I can."
Manager John Russell feels Alvarez will see better pitches hitting between Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen at the top of the order.
"Hitting toward the bottom with the pitcher not too far away, I think [opposing pitchers] weren't too worried about throwing a lot of offspeed [pitches] and pitching around him a little bit," Russell said. "Just like to get him in a situation where he can hopefully see a few more fastballs, and I think the main thing is he's starting to get a little more comfortable, and [I'm] just hoping this is going to be a little bit better situation for him."
With left-handers Alvarez and Garrett Jones batting second and fourth, respectively, Russell likes the idea of alternating right- and left-handed hitters among the first four spots in the lineup, as it will make it more difficult for opposing managers to bring in situational relievers in the late innings.
"It balances a little bit," Russell said. "We're looking at the matchups. With [Phillies lefty J.C.] Romero in their bullpen, we can't just come in and stack three lefties in our lineup. Unfortunately, there's some situations we have to do that, but it should make it a little bit easier for us balance-wise. It's not left, left, left."