Bethancourt up to task of earning everyday role

Catcher sharing duties with Pierzynski, who has started season on a tear

Bethancourt up to task of earning everyday role

PHILADELPHIA -- As Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has utilized A.J. Pierzynski as his primary catcher over the past 10 days, he has said he wants to stick with the "hot bat" and also remind Christian Bethancourt that he has to earn the starting role at the Major League level.

Bethancourt was back behind the plate for Sunday afternoon's 5-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Pierzynski had served as Atlanta's starting catcher in seven of the previous 10 games.

"You've got to respect the manager's decision," Bethancourt said. "He puts whoever he wants in the lineup. So, I've just got to be ready and wait for my opportunity."

During Sunday's series finale, Bethancourt improved to 3-for-5 in the caught-stealing department and also raised his batting average to .147 with a 1-for-4 performance. His early offensive struggles created an opportunity for Pierzynski, who has compiled a .382 batting average through his first nine games.

"We want to give [Bethancourt] an opportunity, but the other guy, you put him in there every single time, and he just keeps hitting," Gonzalez said.

Having started just half of this season's first 18 games behind the plate, Bethancourt has not yet been given an opportunity to truly show what he can provide as an everyday player at the Major League level. But at the same time, the 23-year-old catcher seems to understand why his manager has challenged him to earn the starting role.

"If he says I have to earn it, I will do my best to earn it," Bethancourt said. "I have no problem with that."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.