Phillies Notes: Victorino takes a seat on Phillies bench

Shane Victorino has been struggling at the plate. His manager hopes a day off will help him to findhis swing. YONG KIM / StaffPhotographer
Shane Victorino has been struggling at the plate. His manager hopes a day off will help him to findhis swing. YONG KIM / StaffPhotographer
Posted: June 23, 2012

There was a meeting before Charlie Manuel benched Shane Victorino.

It happened Thursday night after a Phillies loss. Victorino had started 70 of the team's first 71 games, and in his last one he popped out in the eighth inning to strand the potential tying run on second base.

He was booed as an ordinary season slogged to another day - until Manuel told him he would not be a part of Friday's action.

"There was no apparent reason," Victorino said.

The manager was more revealing.

"I wanted to sit him down and want him to relax," Manuel said of the one-day benching. "I just want him to sit there and see if he can clear his head a little bit. We'll give him a break and see what happens. Sometimes an off day is good for you."

Victorino, who is about 100 days away from free agency, said he was not concerned about that impending status. When asked if Victorino's contract has had a negative effect, Manuel rolled his eyes and said: "What do you think?"

That said enough.

For one, Victorino has not driven the ball with the frequency he did a season ago. He was among baseball's best when 10.2 percent of his hits went for extra bases. That rate has dropped to 7.4 percent in 2012, which would be his lowest since 2006.

Nearing the halfway point of this season, Victorino is on pace for career lows in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Victorino predicted he would lead the league in triples as part of a national ad campaign for Major League Baseball before the season. Through 71 games, he doesn't even lead the Phillies. Juan Pierre has three and Victorino has two.

"The way they're pitching him, he's striding quick and getting out on his front side," Manuel said. "He's an arm and hand hitter right now. He's an upper-body hitter. He's like a two-strike, defensive hitter from the left side right now.

"I want him to stay back and take better cuts at the ball."

Data from MLB's Pitch F/X system shows Victorino is seeing slightly fewer fastballs. He has seen more change-ups in 2012 while putting fewer in play.

Since a six-game hitting streak ended May 25, Victorino has hit .215 with five extra-base hits in 25 games.

"Do I want to get off to a great start? Obviously," Victorino said. "Do I want to hit .300? Absolutely. I can't let those things get to me."

Surgery for Stutes

Righthander Mike Stutes will have arthroscopic shoulder surgery Tuesday, a source said. Stutes, on the disabled list since late April, could miss the rest of the season.

The surgery will clean out fraying from Stutes' shoulder. There is believed to be no serious damage to his rotator cuff, which would portend a lengthy absence.

Stutes, 25, complained of shoulder pain late in spring training but started the season on the active roster. He appeared in six games and posted a 6.35 ERA before being placed on the disabled list April 22.

The Phillies have already lost two righthanded relievers - Jose Contreras and David Herndon - to season-ending Tommy John surgeries on their injured elbows.

Extra bases

Roy Halladay (shoulder) long-tossed from 120 feet Friday. Afterward, Manuel spoke to Halladay briefly and was encouraged. "He's getting there," Manuel said. "He says he's feeling real good. But we won't know until he goes off a mound." . . . Chase Utley went 0 for 3 and played the whole game at second base for the first time in the Clearwater Threshers' 3-1 loss to the Daytona Cubs Friday night in Florida. Utley was also hit by a pitch and stole a base. He is now hitting .172 while rehabilitating his chronically sore knees.

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