Phillies Notebook: MANUEL SITS STRUGGLING VICTORINO

Posted: June 25, 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 1-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 changeups 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 earned run average before being placed on the disabled list April 22.

The Phillies have already lost two righty 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 on Friday. Afterward, Charlie 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." . . . Rays manager Joe Maddon, a Hazleton, Pa., native, said 90 people from the Hazleton Integration Project attended Friday's game courtesy of the Phillies. "I thank the Phillies for doing that," Maddon said. "I think Ruben Amaro had a lot to do with it."


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @magelb.

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