Mayberry has 'awesome' opening day for Phillies

Posted: April 05, 2012

PITTSBURGH - On Wednesday, Charlie Manuel told John Mayberry Jr. he would start in left field on opening day.

"It was awesome," Mayberry said. "It was a great feeling to start my first opening day, and it was great to just kind of a spin-off of last year, I guess."

Last year, Mayberry delivered the walk-off hit to win the first game. This year, he was just as vital, providing the most important hit and defensive play of Thursday's 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh.

It's not that Mayberry starting was a huge surprise, but Manuel had hinted Wednesday that he would start Juan Pierre quite a bit in 2012. Pierre had assumed the top spot in Manuel's lineup for many of the final exhibition games, and that left Mayberry as the odd man out.

Then Manuel inserted Mayberry sixth and plopped Shane Victorino in the leadoff spot for the opener. Mayberry made his manager look smart.

"I like him," Manuel said. "I like him in the big outfield too. It was a lefty. I know Juan has a lifetime batting average over .300 against lefties, but Mayberry's definitely capable of, with one swing, producing a run for you."

It almost happened that way in the seventh inning. With Ty Wigginton on first base, Mayberry doubled into the rightfield corner. It was the only extra-base hit of the entire game for both teams. Wigginton held at third and scored a batter later on Carlos Ruiz's sacrifice fly.

Two innings earlier, Mayberry made a catch against the wall on a deep fly from Clint Barmes. He also made a running catch in the fourth inning. When asked which was more difficult, Mayberry smirked. "They were equally tough," he said.

"That was big," Manuel said. "He's one of our best fielders."

Galvis debut

Freddy Galvis did what no Phillies player had done in 42 years: He made his major-league debut in the opening-day starting lineup.

Then he made more history: He was only the 11th player in modern baseball to hit into two double plays in his debut game. No Phillie had ever done that before.

"When I got to the field, that first inning, I just looked around, saw the field, and enjoyed myself," Galvis said. "I've been working for that. I enjoyed it. It's a lot different, baseball here."

Galvis assisted on five plays and made two putouts at second, one on a nifty 6-4-3 double play ball in the first inning that bailed out Roy Halladay from his only trouble.

There were nerves, the 22-year-old Venezuelan said. But after the double-play ball, he could relax some.

"The first inning I was nervous," Galvis said. "After that, I felt good."

Blanton's plan

It turns out the Phillies will not completely skip Joe Blanton in the rotation.

Blanton will pitch in the team's sixth game, April 12 against Miami, pitching coach Rich Dubee said. Late in spring training, Dubee discussed the idea of skipping Blanton so he could keep the rest of his rotation on a regular schedule given the plethora of off days built into the early-season schedule.

The Phillies didn't need a fifth starter until April 15, but Dubee didn't like the idea of Blanton sitting around, so he changed it.

Extra bases

Jimmy Rollins made his 12th straight opening-day start, the longest active streak in baseball. It ties Larry Bowa (1970-81) for the longest streak in franchise history. . . . The Phillies have won three straight openers, their longest run since 1962-66. . . . Scott Podsednik was placed on the temporary inactive list after not reporting to triple-A Lehigh Valley due to personal issues. But a team source said Podsednik plans on reporting as contractually obligated. . . . Lendy Castillo, a Rule 5 pick from the Phillies organization, made the Cubs' opening-day roster. He's a 22-year-old righthander who was converted from shortstop to pitching in 2010. Chicago must keep him on their active roster all season to retain his rights.

Contact Matt Gelb


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