Phillies Notes: In a pinch, Mayberry will do

Posted: April 11, 2011

ATLANTA - John Mayberry Jr. has learned a different way to watch the game in front of him. He'll stretch every inning beginning with the fourth, take some hacks in the underground batting cage, then sit in the Phillies dugout and predict situations in which he may be called upon by bench coach Pete Mackanin to grab his helmet and bat.

"The most important thing is to make sure you're anticipating all possible scenarios," Mayberry said. "You never want to let Pete catch you off guard."

So far, Mayberry has been well prepared for every situation. He had another key pinch-hit in Saturday's 10-2 win and scored on Carlos Ruiz's grand slam. In six pinch-hit chances, Mayberry has hit singles in four of them. (In Sunday's series finale, he pinch-hit in the eighth and grounded out to short.)

Mayberry has become the primary righthanded bat off the bench for Charlie Manuel. It's a new role for Mayberry, 27, but this is what earned him a spot on an opening-day roster for the first time in his career, and it's what will keep him in the majors - for now.

"He was very accepting to it," said Ryan Howard, who has become somewhat of a mentor to Mayberry. "He knows the situation. There are three other guys in the outfield in front of him. Go with that role until something else presents itself."

Mayberry has embraced it - and good results, like the game-winning single on opening day, will always help. He said he was lucky to have been able to watch Matt Stairs, Greg Dobbs, and Ross Gload use their routines for pinch-hitting success.

"I've been able to pick and choose what I like from each of them and apply it to my own game," Mayberry said.

The test, of course, will be how Mayberry reacts to increased inactivity. Mayberry had 68 at-bats in spring training and that comfort carries over to April, hitting coach Greg Gross said. But Gross remains encouraged based upon the progress he's seen in Mayberry over the last two years when both were at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

"The biggest change over the last two years was the gradual progression of not expanding the strike zone as much," Gross said. "He was able to lay off more high fastballs and more breaking balls that might have started in the zone, then went out."

Solving Lowe

Shane Victorino was 2 for 29 against Derek Lowe coming into Sunday's game. He ended the day 5 for 32.

"Shane's hot," Manuel said. "He was patient at the plate. He figured Lowe out a little bit."

What did he discover?

"He figured out he was going to throw him away," Manuel said. "So he was going to hit it to left field. By him hitting the ball to left field, it brought the ball inside to him."

Victorino's sixth-inning home run came on an inside cutter after he had singled to left in his first two at-bats.

"I wouldn't say I figured him out," Victorino said. "It was one of those days. The approach is stay on him. Some days you do, some days you don't."

Extra bases

Ruiz's pinch-hit grand slam on Saturday was the Phillies' seventh such hit since 2001. That's the most for any team in that span, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. . . . The team flew to Washington after the game and will spend the off day there before opening a three-game set Tuesday.


Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/magelb

 

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