Pearce gains in battle for spot


BRADENTON, Fla. — By adding third base to his list of positions, Steve Pearce greatly enhances his chances of breaking camp with the team as a utility player. It puts him on better footing in the battle against Garrett Atkins, Josh Fields and Corey Wimberly.

It should be an interesting competition. Pearce is solid defensively and can be a legit power threat. Atkins has experience and was a fine run-producer in 2006-07. Fields is a natural third baseman and also can help at second. Wimberly has speed and has hit for a high average in the minors.

Manager Clint Hurdle hasn’t seen Pearce play very much. But Hurdle already knows what Pearce can do at the plate.

“He caught a lot of people off guard when he showed up in (2007),” Hurdle said. “We were like, who is this guy? I remember my pitching coach (in Colorado) saying, ‘I don’t know who he is, but the ball’s coming off his barrel a lot.’ His presence was felt early.

“There’s been some delay, with injuries and some things, going along. He’s definitely got a skill set. He’s played a lot in the minor leagues. Up here, the volume of reps (has been less). To be able to play on a corner, to go to the outfield, to be a bat off the bench … you’ve got to like his makeup. He’s coming here to prove something. He expects more out of himself. His health is going to be critical, and he’s feeling really good right now. I feel really good about what can come to the club.”

»»» Kevin Correia and Ross Ohlendorf will piggyback in Sunday’s game against the Rays. Correia gets the first two innings. They’ll be followed by Joel Hanrahan, Joe Beimel and Jose Veras.

»»» Baseball America released its list of top 100 prospects. Jameson Taillon is ranked No. 11. BA graded him at 70 (top-ranked Bryce Harper is graded 80) and predicted Taillon will reach the majors in 2013.

Tony Sanchez (70 grade, 2012 ETA) is ranked No. 46. Stetson Allie (70 grade, 2013 ETA) is ranked No. 79.

»»» Lastings Milledge is in camp with the White Sox, fighting for a bench job. He’s still a bit sore about being non-tendered by the Pirates, but said he is looking forward to playing for a playoff contender.