Inside the Phillies: 'Good' Mayberry checks in

John Mayberry Jr. passes third-base coach Juan Samuel on his first of two homers Sunday.
John Mayberry Jr. passes third-base coach Juan Samuel on his first of two homers Sunday. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 24, 2012

There was a Bad John Mayberry Jr. and a Good John Mayberry Jr. a year ago.

Bad JMJ is part of the reason Hunter Pence now works in Philadelphia.

Good JMJ is a big part of the reason the Phillies felt they could get by with bench additions like Laynce Nix, Juan Pierre and Ty Wigginton this season even though they knew Ryan Howard's power absence was going to be a prolonged one.

Bad JMJ hit .231 with eight extra-base hits in 104 at-bats and was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 2 last season.

Mayberry, Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown all had a chance to claim right field as their own in the first half of the season, but the Phillies decided they needed to add Pence's right-handed bat before the trade deadline.

Good JMJ returned from the IronPigs July 5 and hit .301 with a .358 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 37 RBIs the remainder of the season.

That's the guy the Phillies hoped would show up for a full season. That's the guy they hoped would be the second coming of Jayson Werth, parlaying an opportunity into a full-time job and perhaps even a multi-million-dollar contract some day.

Instead, Bad JMJ resurfaced like a lingering cold for almost the entire first half of this season.

Good JMJ hit two home runs off San Francisco lefty Barry Zito that helped the Phillies avoid a three-game sweep Sunday in a 4-3, 12-inning victory over the Giants.

"It felt pretty good," Mayberry said. "I guess I've seen Zito pretty well in the past and it felt good to get a couple hits."

Mayberry, one of the classiest guys in the Phillies' clubhouse, knows there have been way too many appearances by Bad JMJ this season.

He went into Sunday's game hitting .232 overall and .170 (8 for 47) in his previous 20 games. All eight of his hits since the middle of June had been singles, but he knew he had previously hit a home run against Zito, and now he has two more.

"I think my personal season has kind of gone along the same lines as the team - not necessarily the way I'd want it to go so far," he said. "There is still baseball to be played. I've got to keep working, keep looking at video, try to go out there with a good approach and hopefully the results will follow."

There is still baseball to be played. How meaningful that baseball is going to be for the Phillies is open to question.

Jimmy Rollins became the latest player to try to sell the miracle run after his one-out single off Giants reliever Brad Penny provided the margin of victory in the 12th inning, closing the Phillies' crater-sized gap to 101/2 games in the race for the second wild card.

"It's not a feeling we have," Rollins said. "It's a fact. Now will we do it? That's a different story now. We have the horses now. We're getting back to full strength. Ryan [Howard] and Chase [Utley] are getting some at-bats under them and we have some left-handed bats off the bench with Laynce [Nix], who had a big hit today, which really put me in the position I was in."

Nix's return from a strained calf muscle that had kept him out since May 9 does give manager Charlie Manuel the strongest bench he has had this season. As well as Pierre has performed in a left-field platoon with Mayberry most of this season, he brings almost no extra-base pop to the party.

Pierre has started 57 games against righthanders this season and has a total of 11 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs. Nix started 14 games against righthanders and he had seven extra-base hits and 10 RBIs.

Mayberry has made 23 starts against righthanders and he has been Bad JMJ in almost all of them, batting .210 with five doubles, one home run and a .274 on-base percentage.

Things worked the way Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. envisioned in Sunday's win over the Giants.

The lefthanded Zito left two pitches over the plate to Mayberry and he looked like Good JMJ on both of them, extending his arms for a couple of solo home runs.

We did get a brief glimpse at Bad JMJ in the ninth when he faced righthanded reliever Sergio Romo and struck out on four pitches.

Nix replaced Mayberry as part of a double switch in the 10th inning and got a chance to face the righthander Penny with one out in the bottom of the 12th. He lined a single to right field that allowed Carlos Ruiz to take third base. One pitch later the Phillies crowded around Rollins at first base after he delivered a game-winning single to center field.

With Pierre a probable trade chip before the deadline, Nix and Mayberry figure to share time in left field for the remainder of the season. That could change, of course, if centerfielder Shane Victorino is traded, too. At that point, Mayberry may get overexposed again and a miracle run would be out of the question.


Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com

or @brookob on Twitter.

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