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Versatile Amarista fills perfect role for NL club

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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Utility man Alexi Amarista is far from a perfect player, but he might just be the ideal bench player for a National League team, according to manager Bud Black.

"His skill set does line up to be a very valuable part of a National League team," Black said Tuesday, when Amarista went 1-for-4 with an RBI and run scored against the Reds, starting at second base before moving to center field. "[He can play] second, short, third, left, right, center. He can do the little game, he has a little bit of pop, and I trust him on defense."

The Padres acquired Amarista from the Angels in May 2012 along with right-handed pitcher Donn Roach in a deal that sent reliever Ernesto Frieri to Los Angeles.

Amarista hit .240 with five home runs and 32 RBIs in 275 at-bats, and played everywhere in the infield but first base while seeing time at all three outfield positions.

"I was very happy with the work I did," Amarista said through an interpreter. "This year, I need to do a little more. I'm trying to make adjustments. My job is to get on base."

Amarista did plenty of that following the trade, as he hit .341 in June and .282 in July. But he struggled thereafter, often expanding the strike zone. Once August hit, he batted .198 with 20 strikeouts.

"He's got to walk a little more," said Black, noting Amarista had 17 walks in 105 games.

Amarista, who is listed at 5-foot-8, hit two home runs in a June 30 game at Coors Field. And two days before that, he hit a grand slam off Brett Myers as part of a six-run ninth inning in Houston.

"He's got a little bit of scary pop," Black said.

Black said he has no qualms about using Amarista late in games, no matter the position.

"He'll never lose you a game on defense," Black said.

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